Power woes continue to hound Lanao del Sur PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 July 2014 12:03

As patience began to wear out among thousands of Maranaos observing Ramadhan fasting without electricity, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officialdom is giving a shot at pacifying protagonists in the dispute behind the surge of power outage in Lanao del Sur for a possible ”humanitarian” option.

Lawyer Rasol Mitmug Jr., deputy ARMM executive secretary, said an “urgent meeting” was set in Marawi City yesterday (Thursday) between complaining mayors of Lanao del Sur led by Governor Mamintal Alonto- Adiong Jr., on one hand, and the officials of the province’s electric cooperative, on the other.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman would convene meeting for a possible compromise among parties that may lead to the restoration of light in all towns in Lanao del Sur, at least, during the remaining days of Ramadhan, for “humanitarian” sake, Mitmug said Wednesday.

The Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan is expected to end on July 27 or 28 in festivities called “Eid’l Fitr,” which President Aquino III has declared as a non-working national holiday.

Sheila Ganda, Gov. Adiong’s chief of staff, confirmed Hataman’s coming, saying that Interior and Local Government Sec. Mar Roxas might even preside the meeting. But “no confirmation yet” in Sec. Roxas’ attendance, she added.

Electricity in 33 of the 39 towns of the Maranao province has been severed by the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) since May 2013 due allegedly to the failure of consumers to pay bills, coop general manager Ashary Maongco had claimed in published reports.

But mayors in the affected towns, through legal counsel Bayan Balt, refuted the claim, saying the bills had been paid but the coop management allegedly “diverted” the payment in million of pesos to refurbishing of the Lasureco headquarters in Marawi City.

The local elected executives complained about the Lasureco’s “irregular” installation of one meter gauge per municipality, not per household as practiced by other cooperatives elsewhere in the country.

Last February, Gov. Adiong joined the protest of the mayors and asked national executive and legislative authorities to investigate the fiscal operations of Lasureco.

Manager Maongco and a group called sautol haq or “voice of truth” lashed back in early June, accusing the governor of alleged graft practices before the Ombudsman’s office.

Two weeks later, 27 mayors countered the indictment and charged manager Maongco and two officials of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) with plunder and criminal offenses before the Ombudsman also.

On petition of the mayors, a regional trial court in Marawi City ordered Lasureco late last month to restore light in 27 towns. But the coop reinstated electricity only in nine towns, prompting the mayors to ask the court to cite Maongco in contempt.

Last Tuesday, seven more mayors joined the plunder indictment against Maongco and two NEA officials, citing an alleged admission through a published open letter by the coop manager of using funds for the rehabilitation of the Lasureco headquarters, lawyer Balt said.