MANIFESTO: Why ERC should stop CELCOR from making Cabanatuenos pay for its subsite project
It is enraging that CELCOR is making Cabanatuenos pay for an 89-million substation project on the pretext of service expansion. It would be a huge travesty of justice that ERC will allow this given the following facts:
The Cabanatuenos’ right to know versus a public hearing announcement designed to fail. CELCOR is about to make all Cabanatuenos pay for almost 89-million pesos worth of constructing a substation and the least it can do is to ensure that Cabanatuenos are well-informed of the plan though a public hearing. CELCOR thought it wise to hide behind the technicality of the law and announced the public hearing within the business pages of major publications.
If CELCOR really had the public interest in mind, wouldn’t it have been wiser for CELCOR to send the same announcement through each monthly bill it automatically sends to the consumers? The enraged Cabanatuenos that attended the public hearing only got wind of the 89-million peso substation project from concerned sources and on knowing the project’s implication to their already burdened lives, the Cabanatuenos made their opposition, such as this intent, known during the public hearing.
If CELCOR does not have the capacity to shoulder the cost of constructing the substation, then where did it get the budget to pay for admitted ongoing construction of the same project? During the public hearing, CELCOR has admitted to already starting the construction without the approval of ERC for which the public hearing was designed.
If CELCOR did not have the financial capacity in the first place to cover the cost of the substation project, it would not have taken the “risk” of buying the equipment and starting the construction as it admittedly did. In fact, upon inspection by TV48, the construction of the CELCOR subsite is almost complete.
If CELCOR also intends to make Cabanatuenos pay for this “risk” via the ERC Request No. 2014-148, how then will the paying Cabanatuenos know that the project was truly worth 89-million pesos when no public bidding was ever made known?
Surely if the project had the public interest in mind, it would have minded first of all if this “public” was willing and able to pay for it in the first place.
When have Cabanatuenos become the “large mall operator”? In its own report, CELCOR cites a “large mall operator” as its main reason for prioritizing the construction of a substation. Despite its claim on the contrary, CELCOR has failed to show that Cabanatuenos are the main beneficiaries of the project.
If the Cabanatuenos will be made to pay for the CELCOR substation project, will the Cabanatuenos stand to profit as well from the project? AS CELCOR intends to make Cabanatuenos pay for the substation project that will serve mainly the interest of a “large mall operator”, how is it fair and just that CELCOR will solely profit from monthly electricity bills from the “large mall operator” and purportedly other Cabanatuenos to be served by the new substation?
For argument’s sake, if it is the Cabanatuenos’ duty to pay for the substation it will supposedly benefit from, should not the “large mall operator” pay for the construction as well being the huge beneficiary of the project? In the same vein, shouldn’t Cabanatuenos and the “large mall operator” now collect electricity costs for themselves in order to recover their own construction costs?
In truth, it is CELCOR’s duty as a business entity to ensure provision of electricity. CELCOR alone has earned and profited from this business and CELCOR alone stands to earn and profit from any expansion measures that serve the same purpose.
In its report, CELCOR has not even shown its financial report if only to justify its request for additional capital expenditure. But clearly CELCOR has demonstrated capacity to shoulder construction without ERC’s initial approval and a proper public hearing.
Yes, electricity—and an 89-million peso project at that!—is a public concern, thus the need for a public hearing that CELCOR has undermined by hiding behind the law’s technicality and forgetting that the “public” meant the Cabanatuenos.
CELCOR has also undermined ERC’s role during this public hearing by going ahead with the project’s construction without ERC’s tacit approval. In taking this unjust route, the public is now being hijacked to pay for a project whose 89-million peso cost is questionable (having lacked public bidding) and worse, whose main beneficiary has the “large mall operator” written all over it (as the CELCOR report has itself admitted).
Only one thing is clear: CELCOR alone stands to benefit and profit from this travesty of a law and business designed to serve the public interest. The least ERC can do is to stop CELCOR from making the public, the Cabanatuenos, pay for CELCOR’s unsubstantiated “risk” practices.