Foreign firms take advantage of power crisis in Mindanao

A consumer group in General Santos is decrying the recent events where foreign companies are taking advantage of the Mindanao power crisis to the detriment of the Filipino people.

Roy Sande of the Consumers Against Exploitation decried the signing of the Power Sales Contract between South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (SOCOTECO II) and Peak Power, a subsidiary of an American company, A Brown. “This US company did not only sign a very expensive contract. The signing itself was anomalous as the essential provisions of the contract were left blank,” Roy said. “Clearly,” he said, “this is a firm trying to take advantage of us here in General Santos City.”

The group also pointed out that this company has been singled out by human rights groups in Mindanao for its participation in the harmful expansion of palm oil plants.

Sande claimed A Brown, through its subsidiary Peak Power, signed a contract with blank pages. Pointing out the essential provisions that were left blank, Roy likened it to SOCOTECO II signing a blank check.

“Murag nakamenos sila sa amo mga consumer, porke wala me suga, bisag unsa na lang puede nila ilabay sa amo. Abe nila dili me makakita!” (They (SOCOTECO II) think we are stupid. Just because we have no lights, they think they can throw anything at us because we won’t see anyway), Sande lamented.

“Diha sila nasayop!” (That’s where they are mistaken), Sande warned. He said that they will not stop until SOCOTECO II scraps the Peak Power contract.

He also pointed out that last week, Energy International (EI) participated in and won the bid by SOCOTECO II for a 2-year diesel power supply for the electric cooperative. EI is not too well known in the local power industry. Their website ( states the EI, based in Michigan, USA, was established in 1979 as a company serving the HVAC Industry. EI is supplying contractors, consultants, municipalities, government agencies, airport & seaport authorities, as well as end-users and OEM manufacturers.

“Unsa ang pagtan-aw nila sa amo, bo-ang?” Roy asked. He said SOCOTECO II is not buying air-conditioners but power plants.

The consumer group pointed out that while EI submitted the lowest bid, it reportedly did not comply with the bid’s terms of reference (TOR).

The TOR required the bidders to post a cash performance guarantee in the form a check or remittance to be deposited to the account of SOCOTECO 2. EI, however, only submitted a Letter of Credit.

“Ngano man ip-lusot nila ning bidder kung wala siya ka-comply? Ing-ana na ba gyud ka babaw ang pag-tan-aw nila sa amo? Ngano pa ipa agi sa bidding? Ginaliba lang me!” (Why did they allow the bidder to submit a non-complying bid? Is that how low they (SOCOTECO II fficials) think of us? So why go through a bidding? Just to hoodwink us?),” Sande and his group lamented.

If the TOR were to be followed strictly, since an LC is not eligible as a performance guarantee, EI would have been disqualified from the bid. Only cash bonds were supposedly acceptable to ensure that only qualified bidders would participate. Nonetheless, SOCOTECO II allowed EI to participate.

Sande pointed out that if it were a Filipino company, it would have been disqualified right away.

The group also pointed out that this same consortium did not deliver power plants they were supposed to deliver in the past. Cesar Hernandez of the consortium is the President of 3i that failed to deliver in 2007, 30 MW in Marinduque, Tablas, and Romblon. This failure to deliver, according to the group, was in spite of the approval of the Energy regulatory Commission (ERC).

“In spite of this information, SOCOTECO II accepted their bid,” according to Sande. “We, the consumers, will stand to lose because if the bidder cannot deliver, they have nothing to lose because they did not deposit any CASH bond.” .

The group vowed not to stop going against what they believe is a systematic exploitation by foreign companies of the Filipinos. “They might have the money and power now, but we are not going to stop until people, like EI’s and A Brown’s, are stopped by the Filipino people.

The group has called on SOCOTECO II officials to stop entering into contracts with these firms. (JMJ)


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