“Its a mistake” – Fibeco demands NEA apology on ‘ailing coop’ tag

MARAMAG, Bukidnon (Bukidnon News/17 October) The National Electrification Administration has listed the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco) as among 18 electric cooperatives in the country which allegedly posted net losses and are considered ‘ailing power utilities.’

But Fibeco officials rebuffed the enlistment published in Manila Bulletin on October 6, calling it “a mistake.”

In a press conference on October 11, Engr. Renato Cortezano, Fibeco general manager, belied the report.

“Fibeco has no circumstance of (being considered) ailing. Fibeco is always on the go. Fibeco has Triple “AAA” category certified by NEA. How could we become an ailing cooperative?” Cortezano said.

“AAA” category is the highest rating in NEA’s Overall Performance Assessment using its Key Performance Standards (KPS), according to the NEA website. In 2012, NEA gave 50 ECs with “AAA” rating.

NEA cited that recipients of “AAA” rating are compliant to all four parameters: financial, institutional, technical and reportorial requirements.

Edgardo R. Piamonte, NEA deputy administrator for electric distribution utilities services, noted in his presentation to Manila-based reporters that 18 or around 16 percent of the country’s 114 electric cooperatives are ailing.

The NEA official explained as quoted in the newspaper report that for ECs to be labelled as “ailing”, the EC could have dilemmas like high system losses; low collection efficiency; posting operating losses and with huge liabilities and negative net worth.

The article quoted that an ailing electric cooperative could also be suffering from institutional problems on governance; consumer per employee ratio; and may also be failing in adhering to policies.

Cortezano said as of August 2013, Fibeco only had 7.38 percent system loss and an average of 10.61 percent in 2012 as against the maximum level (cap) of 13 percent.

He said they also reported having only 2 percent deficiency in collection.

Cortezano cited their innovations “for the good of its members” and their good financial standing. He however did not respond to follow up query via SMS and mobile phone on the status of the coop’s liabilities.

Fibeco officials called the press conference to clear the air on the NEA report and told reporters they have demanded an apology from NEA through a letter.

“We just received text messages from NEA apologizing to us of what they have said but that’s not enough,” architect Raul Alkuino, a member of Fibeco’s board of directors said.

He added that the statement is “very destructive to Fibeco.”

“Ailing coop? It is a mistake… The fact is that we always enjoyed prompt payment discount,” Alkuino said.  (Mel B. Madera for Bukidnon News)