• Abra power co-op debts traced to fund abuse


    Bangued, Abra: Huge debts of the ailing Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) that has ballooned to over P600 million, from P300 million in the last three years, was allegedly caused by mismanagement of fund.

    The fragile situation of Abreco was revealed by documents from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and other government agencies.

    Abreco suffered power shutdowns in 2012, 2013 and 2014 owing to its accumulated unpaid bills.

    By 2014, Aboitiz Power Corp. cut off Abra’s power supply for failure to pay P50 million in arrears and terminated its long-term contract.

    Abreco has since then been buying electricity at a much higher rate.

    Records showed that Abreco started bleeding way back in 2005 under the stewardship of Abreco’s General Manager Marco Bautista, mayor of San Juan town and Abra’s congressional bet for the lone district, with monthly losses averaging P250,000. It continued losing money up to its latest financial report submitted to the NEA in June last year, which showed it was short of cash on hand amounting to P1 million.

    The bulk of the multimillion debts were owed to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), which it inherited from the National Power Corp. (Napocor) on the strength of the Energy and Power Industry Reform Act. (Epira).

    From over P114 million in 2006, Abreco’s debt to PSALM grew to P355 million by 2014 and about P500 million last year. It represented unpaid power bills to Napocor incurred under Bautista’s stewardship from 1997 to 2007.

    The cooperative also incurred arrears in electric bills of P50 million to the Aboitiz Power when the latter terminated its long-term supply contract in 2014.

    Abreco also borrowed P25 million from the NEA in 2003, ballooning to P35 million as of January 2016, after it stopped paying its amortization, including interests and surcharges since 2007 when it registered to the Cooperative Development Authority from NEA.

    “It was a brilliant escape,” so that NEA could not go after the past management, said current manager Loreto Seares Jr., who admitted difficulty in reconciling the debts.

    Abreco also owes P12 million unpaid taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.


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