In a bid to urgently and adequately respond to a looming power crisis in Basilan, Basilan Lone District Representative Mujiv Hataman and Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman sought the creation of a technical working group that will come up with a detailed feasible plan of action to once and for all address the issues concerning the relationship between Basilan Electric Cooperative (BASELCO) and National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR).
Speaking in the Stakeholders’ Forum, August 27, at the Kasinnahan Hotel and Resort, Rep. Hataman revealed that he obtained the commitment of the Department of Budget and Management for the release of PHP1.3 billion unused funds of NAPOCOR to settle with Petron its overdue payments amounting to PHP1.2 billion incurred from previous diesel deliveries.
Yahcob Darayan, NAPOCOR department manager for SPUG, thanked Rep. Hataman that without his intervention, Basilan and all other diesel-powered electric cooperatives in the country will suffer total blackout by September 02.
Earlier, Rep. Hataman vowed to exhaust all means to stave off this problem that is also pervasive with other NAPOCOR-sustained electric cooperatives in other parts of the country as he emphasized that this also requires action on the national level.
Also discussed at the forum were the spate of frequent blackouts experienced lately in Basilan, to which both BASELCO officials led by GM Dusib Durapan and NAPOCOR replied were caused by a number of problems stemming from the following: (1) ageing wires, posts and connections – most lines are at least 46 years old; (2) technical losses – reduced from a high of 36% to the current 20%; (3) financing problems – a high debt burden of PHP3.2 billion owed by BASELCO to NAPOCOR, wherein 60% of the debt payments are paid to interest and charges; (4) vegetation control/right of way issues with landowners who refuse to allow Baselco workers to undertake sustained line clearing operations in their private lands; (5) other concerns – collection rates, pilferage rates, missionary electrification, reclosers, etc.
For her part, Mayor Turabin-Hataman insisted that both BASELCO and NAPOCOR should present immediate and long term plans – a roadmap that will solve all of the issues raised thus far – so that LGUs will be better able to respond by aligning these with LGU programs and finally put an end to this recurring, decades-old problem.
In attendance were representatives of the local chamber of commerce and industry, civil society organizations, security forces, the academe and the media. Also present were Basilan Vice Governor Yusop Alano, Basilan District 1 Amin Hataman, and BASELCO and NAPOCOR management.
It can be recalled that due to spiraling costs of fuel that has caused ballooning debts, Petron has threatened to cut off supply to all diesel-powered generators managed by NAPOCOR. In Basilan, this is expected to happen by early September with 12-16 hours of power interruption daily. BASELCO has incurred 3.2 billion pesos worth of financial liabilities from NAPOCOR.