Friday, January 9, 2009

01-09-09: A "Power" Struggle in Bacolod Despite P1.1 billion budget

BACOLOD, PHILIPPINES -- After the executive budget of P1.1 billion was passed last December 2008, City Mayor Evelio Leonardia has lined-up his priorities for this year 2009 looking vigorously for the success of more infrastructures projects and programs. But the entire city of Bacolod is left scratching their heads. The budget in 2008 surely accounted for the cost of electricity. But why is it that Bacolod has close to P33 million in overdue electricity fees with CENECO, from July 2007 to June 2008.

On January 8, 2009 (Thursday), CENECO officially acted upon their various warnings and notices that the overdue electric bills will need to be paid. In a historical, and embrassing day for Bacolod's city government, CENECO turned off the power.

Mayor "Bing" Leonardia on a press conference Friday, called CENECO's attempt to collect bills as "enemy actions" and attacked CENECO president Vicente Sabornay's lawful attempt to collect bills as politically motivated. He further ordered the city's legal team to revoke the mayor's permit and lock CENECO's office location.

Sabornay said if Ceneco goes bankrupt for subsidizing the city’s unpaid bills of P3 million a month, the National Power Corp. (Napocor) would cut the power firm off, depriving everyone within its franchise area of electricity.

While the legal ramifications of the city's actions remains unclear, what is clear is that the budget in 2008 that was supposed to pay for bills, seem to have been ignored in this case -- which begs the question for Mayor Leonardia and his administration, where has the money that was suppose to pay for the electricity gone to?

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