BAGUIO CITY—A management conflict over the Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) has become a security issue because police fear that an unstable power supply would disrupt the conduct of the elections next year, police officials said.
Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc., which supplies electricity to Abreco, cut off supply to the cooperative on Dec. 10 because of breaches in a restructured debt agreement, said Ria Calleja, Aboitiz Power assistant vice president for corporate branding and communication.
Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, said Abra’s power crisis would be taken up with the Commission on Elections, as well as the Abra government, in an effort to bring electricity back for the 2013 elections.
Magalong said Abra officials have been engaged in a word war over the management of Abreco, which is run by a member of an influential political clan.
Magalong said he has been trying to referee the fight by making calls to the officials. He said he would visit Abra soon to assess the security situation there.
Calleja said Abreco had negotiated the debt restructuring deal shortly after it secured the Aboitiz supply contract in December 2011.
“We have had problems with Abreco payments at the very start of our supply agreement,” she said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
After issuing a series of disconnection notices beginning in June, Calleja said Aboitiz Power cut power this month and informed Abra officials that the company could not shoulder Abreco’s mounting debts and could not condone 15 bouncing checks it issued as initial payments for unpaid electricity supplied to 27 towns.
Aboitiz restored power supply in Abra on Wednesday after Abreco paid P4.9 million in initial payment.
The cooperative, however, has to pay P15.3 million again on Dec. 24, representing Abreco’s November bills, Calleja said.
She said Abreco also needs to post P32 million as a security deposit, as prescribed by its restructured debt agreement with Aboitiz Power.
The website, www.abrenian.com, which posts online commentaries about the province, cited reports of gunshots being heard in the capital town of Bangued during the blackout this week.
Magalong said a case of indiscriminate firing had been documented by the Abra police, as well as instances when firecrackers were ignited during the blackout.
Calleja said Abreco officials have promised that they would no longer delay payments. “I hope they fulfill that promise,” she said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon