06 December 2014
Militants hit gov’t plan for consumers to bear Napocor settlement
“TOTALLY unacceptable!,” this was the reaction of militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) to the government’s plan to let the consumers bear the brunt of the Supreme Court-sanctioned 60.2 billion peso labor dispute settlement between Napocor and labor union, Napocor Drivers and Mechanics Association (NPC-DAMA).
Facing the Senate Committee on Energy the other day, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima proposed that the consumers will be the ones to pay the illegally dismissed workers their back wages.
In an emailed statement to the media, BMP accused Petilla of trying to hit two birds with one stone. First, he tries to blame the labor union for the power hike if ever the garnishment of Napocor assets will proceed and second for passing the workers’ claim to the consumers coupled with his patented blackmails of power outages. At both instances, Petilla is evading the issue of his liability and his incompetence.
The labor group cited that Petilla’s incompetence streak was first manifested in the simultaneous maintenance shutdown of power plants causing a spike in electricity prices, the failed promise to electrify Tacloban before Christmas last year and just recently for his alarming statements that a power supply crisis is to take place next year and now with his proposal to implement grossly unjust policy.
“Petiilla and Purisima have no sense of fairness or even logic to implement an unjust imposition. Firstly, the consumers had no participation whatsoever in the mismanagement of the Napocor assets for them to pass it on to the consumers? Moreover, there is no connection legal or otherwise between the consumers and the labor case of NPC- DAMA,” said Gie Relova of BMP.
“With the privatization of Napocor assets almost complete, the debt stock of Government has not been dented, it remains to be standing at 16 billion US Dollars from 2001 up to today, if that is not mismanagement then I don’t know what is,” he added.
The militants say that such a proposal may constitute as grave abuse of authority and will be consulting lawyers on its legality as well as the accountability of the PSALM officials.
“By all means, the dismissed workers must receive what is rightfully theirs. Same as us, they are but victims to the privatization schemes this government has been peddling for the past two decades but this must not be the burden of ordinary electricity consumers but by those accountable for such mismanagement, Relova clarified.
The BMP likewise echoed the call of the Freedom from Debt Coalition that those who benefitted from the EPIRA Law must be the ones that must shoulder the burden of compensating the claims of the workers and not the ordinary consumers who have long been bled dry by the deregulation of the power industry.
EPIRA to blame
“Time and again, this present dilemma can be easily rooted to the EPIRA. This is but another manifestation of the colossal failure of the EPIRA and the people shall continuously be haunted by until it is repealed,” Relova asserted.
“To begin with, ordinary wage-earners were the most defiant opposition to the EPIRA law and the consequential privatization of the Napocor assets because we always knew that retrenchment was next step once it was enacted. Lo and behold, we were right. The oppositionists to EPIRA have been vindicated, the labor leader explained.
The BMP has long called for the junking of EPIRA and the nationalization of the power industry to veer away from the profit orientation it has taken.#