Mon. Apr 12th, 2021

MANILA – The Duterte administration will run after the billions of pesos worth of overdue payments which power companies and electric cooperatives owe the government, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark following reports that power companies, including South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC), Northern Renewables Generation Corp., Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC) Misamis Power Corp., among others owe the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) debts amounting to some PHP95.42-billion.

“Basta may utang sa gobyerno, singilin natin kahit na sinong may utang. Malaking tao o hindi malaking tao. Malapit o hindi (As long as there are debts, the government will run after them. Whether they are powerful people or not, whether they are close to the President or not),” Panelo said in an interview over DZIQ.

PSALM is the agency tasked by Congress under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 to sell the assets of the defunct National Power Corp.

Panelo reiterated that there will be “no scared cows” in government.

Meanwhile, he said Solicitor General Jose Calida is free to attend a legislative inquiry into power companies’ and electric cooperatives’ overdue payments.

Earlier, the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and Committee on Public Accounts ordered Calida to testify at the joint hearing on March 11 after failing to show up at the past hearings in February.

Calida was asked to provide the House panels with “pertinent documents,” including his office’s “Motion for Leave to Intervene,” in connection with the uncollected PHP14.97 billion and PHP315.42 million from the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and First Gen Hydro Power Corporation.

“Wala namang masama sa pagdalo sa hearing (There’s nothing wrong with attending a hearing),” Panelo said.

He said Palace will not stop Calida from attending the legislative investigation.

The House committees said one of the biggest unpaid debts is from SPPC, a subsidiary of San Miguel Global Power Corporation, which owes PSALM PHP23.4 billion.

They warned that with the set expiration of PSALM’s corporate life by 2026, these uncollected receivables of the national government could be “ultimately” passed on to the consumers.

“This is an unacceptable proposition that the House of the People, under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, vigorously objects to. Our action is in pursuit of President Duterte’s commitment to ensure the quality, reliability, and affordability of the supply of electric power in the country to provide a safe and comfortable life for all Filipinos,” they said.

Meanwhile, the PSALM vowed to continue its collection efforts to go after power companies with delinquent accounts totaling a whopping PHP33.62 billion.

If these debts remain unpaid, PSALM will incur an annual borrowing cost of about PHP1.7 billion a year. (PNA)

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