Consumer group National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc. (NASECORE) is calling on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to probe power coop funds allegedly used in party list campaigns.
In a letter sent to the ERC, the consumer group said some electric cooperatives (ECs) made financial and other contributions to party-list groups running for the May elections.
NASECORE slammed ECs for using consumers’ payments for campaign purposes.
NASECORE executive director Antonio Acebedo said those funds could have been used to improve the efficiency and quality of the ECs’ services or lower electricity rates.
He said consumer funds are meant to be used exclusively for distribution and other related electric services. He called on the ERC to immediately take action to protect the interest of the consumers and impose the penalties the law demands.
As an example, the group cited the alleged P3-million allocation by Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative to party-list group Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA), categorized as “financial contribution.”
Acebedo noted that the use of these contributions for campaign purposes is “in clear violation of not only of election laws but, even worse, also of the Energy Regulatory Commission-approved EC Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR).”
He added that an EC is a public utility as it provides public service in lieu of the state as provided under the law and Philippine jurisprudence,.
“What is worse, the recipients of the EC contributions are party-list groups purporting to represent consumer interests,” said former Department of Energy (DOE) undersecretary Pete Ilagan, one of the NASECORE founders.
Ilagan said at least two party lists have had seats in Congress for years but have yet to present considerable achievements such as lowering of electricity rates or improving systems and structure for efficient, reliable and quality service.