KIDAPAWAN CITY: Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has ordered the restoration of electricity supply next week in seven coastal towns in Lanao del Sur pending investigation of debts of a power cooperative that reached P11 billion.
The municipalities of Picong, Malabang, Marogong, Balabagan, Calanogas, Kapatagan and Pagayawan have been without electricity for the last four years.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in his Facebook post, said they discovered the absence of electricity during his “Biyaheng Bukid” program held in the province last week where he discussed the possibility of establishing an ice-making facility in Malabang town.
“My suggestion was met with blank stares by people who then informed me that the ice plant could not be built because the town does not have electric power,” he added.
Piñol immediately informed the Energy secretary about the problem and arranged a meeting with the mayors of the affected towns.
After the meeting, Cusi dispatched a team to inspect power lines and other facilities in the towns before starting immediate repair and reconnection works.
Cusi also ordered an immediate investigation of alleged anomalies in the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco), with which the towns’ power lines were previously connected, Piñol said.
In 2014, majority of the chief executives in the 39 towns aired their concerns about the failing electric cooperative after its debts reached P8 billion at the time.
They lodged complaints against former cooperative and other officials for their alleged involvement in non-remittance of payments to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Task Force Lasureco was also formed that year to address major issues that plagued the cooperative.
Rights-of-way and bombing of the towers and other electric posts in the affected areas were seen as major issues by the task force.
A few months ago, a new task force was put in place by President Rodrigo Duterte to take over the ailing cooperative with its debt now at P11 billion.
Previous reports showed that the cooperative’s debt started to reach over P1 billion in 2004 then escalated to P2 billion in 2008.