By Myrna M. Velasco
An Executive Order (EO) targeted to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte intends to write off P10 billion worth of debts incurred by the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (LASURECO), a power utility serving the war-torn Marawi City as well as neighboring areas.
Nevertheless, National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief Edgardo R. Masongsong qualified that any planned debt condonation will have to go through legislative action before getting firmed up.
“The debts – either it will be condoned, but that will be subjected to a law,” he told reporters; emphasizing that such proposal is contained in the proposed EO to be issued by Malacañang.
Beyond the proposed debt write-off, Masongsong indicated that the more comprehensive plan is placing the electric cooperative under government receivership.
“There’s a proposed EO now submitted to the Office of the President for government takeover. That’s a decision by a committee composed of the DOE (Department of Energy) and DOF (Department of Finance),” the NEA administrator said.
He added that the preferred legal fiat is an Executive Order, because this is part of the grander-scale rehabilitation blueprint cast for the “armed conflict-wrecked” Marawi City.
And on the overall target of bringing back the Marawi-serving power utilities into their viable operational state, Masongsong noted that they will likely be seeking a special allocation of an estimated P178 million from Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management.
“Definitely, there will be a special budget for that. We will ask for a relatively marginal amount of P178 million because not all of Marawi had actually been ravaged,” the NEA chief stressed.
On LASURECO’s arrears, it was noted that the bulk had been owed to state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) relative to the supply procurements of the power utility.
The electric cooperative also has liabilities due with transmission service provider National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, the NEA and even other power suppliers.
Debt condonation for LASURECO was initially put forward as part of the prescription of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), but this has not been carried out as recommended.