Sink or swim Print
Thursday, 28 July 2016 15:30

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

We either sink or swim today when the great minds in the power sector of Zamboanga, business moguls, politicians and some lawyers converge at the session hall of the city council to discuss (debate, at times impolitely shout to stress a point) on the Terms of Reference (TOR) that will serve as basis for the commissioning of an Investment Management Contract (IMC) to manage the affairs of the dying (almost dead) Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Zamcelco)

Five business organizations have submitted their joint views on how the process should take place. Fr. Karel S. San Juan, S.J., president of the Movement for a Better Zamboanga and president of Ateneo de Zamboanga University; Edwin Go, president of the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation; Engr. Efren Y. Wee, director-at-large of the Industrial Group of Zamboanga, Inc.; Engr. Jaydric Johnson A. Yap, president of the Southern Philippines Deep-sea Fishing Association; and former priest Crisanto de la Cruz, president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines – Zambasulta chapter said in a one-page position paper that Zamcelco and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) should make public a copy of the TOR for the IMC before the same is made final and bid out. “Member-consumers should be allowed to study the TOR to ensure that the terms for the bidding of the IMC will indeed be favorable to the cooperative (Zamcelco), members and consumers just as we try to strive to offer terms which will be attractive to potential investors.”

The statement further stated: “The IMC is a contract that will have serious financial implications for our cooperative and for the city of Zamboanga for a very long period of time…We should, therefore, make the process as transparent as possible to ensure inclusivity and widespread acceptance.”

Their position document was presented during the Public Information and Discussion on the IMC at the Grand Astoria Hotel last July 15.

Mayor Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar also submitted her stand on the matter, stressing that the IMC is “seen as a measure to improve Zamcelco’s financial condition by locating a new source of fund and encourage private sector participation.

“Considering that endeavor will have a great impact to consumers, the city of Zamboanga included, it is important to high-light their active participation in the formulation of policies encompassing the TOR that will serve as the blueprint in the execution and implementation of the IMC with deserving bidder ,” she said.

“I and the city government of Zamboanga support the implementation of the IMC…We suggest that there should be an earnest effort to promote transparency in the formulation thereof. Active participation of the member-consumers and other concerned sectors must be recognized and respected,” she added.

And here’s what Congressman Celso L. Lobregat had to say: “The public information and discussion on the IMC is a step in the right direction…It was the position of many members that the TOR of Zamcelco’s IMC be taken up and passed by the general membership. Zamcelco has to bite the bullet and always act and plan with a sense of urgency, purchase power aggressively with a reserve component but with transparency, pursue the IMC and reduce system’s loss.”

Further, he said: “It is with hope and optimism that when we meet again for the 42nd AGMA in 2017, Zamcelco will already be operating under (an) IMC, Zamcelco’s system’s loss will be addressed and already lower that what it is now and that Zamcelco will be well on its way to recovery and rehabilitation.”

And, so, today they meet again – to discuss longer than usual about the plight of Zamcelco and to provide remedies to save it from financial ruin. Some “pilosopos” will try to block the passage of the TOR unsatisfied with the non-disclosure of some “confidential clauses”. Whatever it will be, the outcome of today’s “pow-wow” should be “pro-wow” that will favor all parties. The conclusion should be common: an affirmation of the TOR and the immediate bidding for the commissioning of an IMC to lift Zamcelco from the brink of financial disaster and Zamboanga from the bondage of incessant blackouts and economic collapse.

Every day that Zamcelco operates on its own, it loses money in the millions of pesos. Sanamagan, hombre. Que horror! The losses, people, are passed on to us! Yawa!

The IMC is Zamcelco’s life-saver and the consumers’ saving grace. What is so demeaning is the arrogance of some people, appearing to be concerned at our power situation, who protect their own vested interests and unscrupulous hidden agenda and push aside the people’s welfare. This is simply shameful. We need to stop people of such caliber and start doing something to protect the interests of the people.