State-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) is working with the Department of Energy (DOE) to collect around P11.5 billion worth of debt from electric cooperatives in Mindanao, particularly the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (LASURECO) and the Maguindanao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MAGELCO).
LASURECO owes PSALM around P10 billion, while MAGELCO has an overall debt which amounts to around P1.5 billion.
“It’s the DOE that will decide what we’ll do with LASURECO and MAGELCO. We cannot simply cut the power, because we’re trying to help also the Mindanao stakeholders in rebuilding Marawi,” PSALM President Irene Joy Garcia was quoted in a Manila Bulletin report.
Garcia added that there was an inter-agency meeting to strategize how to collect the debts of the two electric cooperatives.
“And we looked at all the possibilities, what can we do – how can we take over and how can we collect and improve the efficiency of collections,” Garcia said.
PSALM said MAGELCO has been remitting partial payments “as opposed to an arrangement before, that they’re not really making any payment.”
On the other hand, LASURECO lost its documents during the 2017 Marawi siege, posing a threat in settling its debt of P10 billion.
“LASURECO is a very complicated problem because you know what happened to Marawi… a lot of their records were stolen during the Marawi siege so they need to reconstitute the records,” Garcia stressed.
PSALM Board Chairman and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III mandated the LASURECO debts to be part of the receivables to be collected so it can spare the massive liabilities transferred to it following the privatization of the National Power Corporation (NPC) assets.
National Electrification Administration (NEA) proposed that LASURECO debts be written off through an Executive Order (EO), but no movement has been done since last year.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong earlier indicated that the next step shall be legislative action to write-off the debt.