TS Glenda, bushfires and Albay’s disaster preparedness

Albay is considered a Vatican of Disasters. It ranks first in terms of earthquake-induced landslides, tsunami, and rainfall increase; ranks second in terms of volcanic eruptions, and; it ranks fifth in terms of typhoons. For these, the province was able to develop not only resilience but also preparedness that when a powerful tropical storm Glenda (Rammasun) battered the country, Albay got zero casualty as against the country’s record of 98 dead persons and five missing.

But while Albay stands prominent among the country’s provinces in terms of disaster preparedness and its governor, Joey Salceda, is already rocking the waves for a mindset shift in terms of responding to disasters, a new calamity is again battering the province: bush and forest fires.

A PAF helicopter doing firefighting operations in Cagraray Island, Albay. Credits: MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON/www.inquirer.net

Bush and forest fires may not be new in other areas including Albay. Narumduman ko, kada summer igwang kasulo diyan sa may Mayon Volcano na minsan nakakaloko dahil hona mo nagtuga na naman an bulkan. Dahil iyan sa mamarang mga kahoy asin gogon. But the recent ones are different as these are in the towns of Manito, Bacacay and Rapu-rapu far away from Mayon’s side, and these are so widespread threatening residential and agricultural areas. Is Albay prepared for this?

Hopefully, Albay’s zero casualty model which earned Galing Pook Award will be able to address this new kind of calamity. Pero sana mapundo na ang mga huring-huding na pinapadusahan ang Albay dahil sa mga alegasyon kan korapsyon kan nagkakapirang mga lokal na officiales. Dai iyan makakatabang sa panahon nin kalamidad.

 

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ALECO’s fate will not be determined by PSP or “Co-op to Co-op”

Come September 14, 2013, Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) consumers will have to choose between private sector participation (PSP) scheme or allowing another electric cooperative (known as “Co-op to Co-op”) to run the troubled electric power distributor in Albay according to reports. But will the options promise to “fix” the troubled Aleco?

There are five major modes of running an electric distribution company. The unique one is having it run by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) as in the case of Aleco; through the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-registered Board as in the case of Sorsogon Electric Cooperative (SORECO) II; through a NEA-registered Board under the Cooperative which is the case of almost 90% of electric cooperatives in the Philippines; through an investment management contractor (IMC), and; through privatization such as the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO). Co-op to Co-op, in a way, may be classified under the IMC as in the case of Bohol Electric Cooperative (BOHECO) II which manages BOHECO I.

In whatever mode an electric power distribution company or cooperative is run, its performance is always determined by politicization, or the lack of it. This explains why Bohol Lights, the electric power service provider of Tagbilaran City which was once owned by the provincial government of Bohol, was transferred to the consortium owned by Salcon in December 1999 through a Rehabilitate-Own-Operate-Maintain and Manage Scheme (ROOMM). But even the Bohol Lights under Salcon did not perform as expected because of insider reports that some local politicians are still meddling in the affairs of the company. SORECO II, a cooperative under CDA, is also under-performing because of some interference from local politicians. Without going any further, we also have ALECO, now being managed by NEA, the national agency that regulates, supposedly expert in managing, electric cooperatives.

The good ones, meanwhile, like BOHECO II and the Cebu-based electric cooperatives (CEBECOs) perform well because of the lack of political interference.

In simple terms, whatever ALECO consumers choose between PSP or Co-op to Co-op, if the local politicians will not refrain from meddling in the management of the cooperative, nothing will happen to change the electric cooperative’s fate. Instead, it will be just the same horror story but in a different level.

 

Aleco privatization plan divides Albayanos

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 5 (PNA) –- The plan being carried out by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to privatize Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) has engaged Albayanos in a clash of opinions — divided between the rich, in favor, and the poor, against.

The plan has become a burning issue in the wake of the recent power supply cut-off in the entire province as a measure of the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) to compel Aleco, the third biggest electric cooperative but touted as among the 10 worst in country, to settle unpaid electricity bills amounting to over P1 billion.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) cut off the power at noontime Wednesday last week and restored it after 29 hours on interventions made by City Mayor Noel Rosal as head of the province’s League of Cities, Albay 3rd district congressman Fernando Gonzales and Governor Joey Salceda.

As Albay Governor, I support the ongoing NEA-managed process of privatization of Aleco management to achieve our second goal after the power restoration: ensure continuous supply of power. We are grateful to Department of Energy Secretary Ikot (Jericho Petilla) for his kindness and we support his energy reforms,” Salceda said.

“History is on the side of privatization. I have not seen Meralco, Aboitiz, SM group-Chevron or SMC na pinutulan ng kuryente,” Salceda said, adding that in the privatization scheme, only the management will be given to corporations as Aleco is already private being not a public institution.

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