Privatizing ORMECO, A Poisoned Chalice

The problems besetting our province’s electric coop ORMECO had been going on for years. Plagued by ongoing issues from mere mismanagement, squabbles and political meddling to a more serious allegations and accusations of corruption, the cooperative indeed needed a reprieve.

Yesterday, we all saw a communication from Energy Sec. Al Cusi dated January 11, 2019 a list submitted to the Speaker of the House pertaining to ill-performing electric cooperatives. The letter is a recommendation to cancel franchises for those included in the list and to open up such franchises to potential applicants.

Included in the list is our very own ORMECO.

We all deserve for our electric cooperative to be run by managers, not politicians. We all deserve for our cooperative to be run efficiently, so it could provide what we need. Clean power. We all deserve for our coop to be run according to its mantra of public service over profit.

After all, the people of Oriental Mindoro rely solely on the coop to provide them the power needed that everyone needs, from charging our cellphones to powering our industries.

But the solution to privatize our electric cooperative is a poisoned chalice. It might seem a possible shortcut solution to what is ailing ORMECO now. But in the long run, we, the people would be the ones on the receiving end.

And at this stage, we need to make a collective stand.

Do we expect power rates to come down, once ORMECO becomes under the hands of private interests? We beg to disagree.

The privatization of the power industry had already resulted in monopoly control, inefficient power delivery and sky-rocketing prices, contrary to what the law aimed. Instead of the law encouraging competition and ensure better pricing for consumers, it had caused the massive privatization and deregulation of the country’s power sector and has strengthened the monopoly of private interests who rake in massive amount of profits at the expense of the consumers.

Three groups now dominate the Luzon grid: San Miguel Corporation, the Aboitiz group and the Lopez group. According to figures by research group IBON, residential power rates have escalated by 99% from Php 4.87/kwh in 2000 to Php 9.68/kwh in 2015. And according to reports, Philippine power rates are among the highest in Asia and fifth in the world.

Once it becomes privatized, the people of Oriental Mindoro will be held hostage by the fluctuating prices as dictated by private interests whose one and only aim is to make a profit.