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DOE exec gives Ormoc the go signal to release royalty subsidies under the old law, city ordinance

AN EXECUTIVE of the Department of Energy-Renewable Energy Management Bureau has given Ormoc City the go signal to release the power subsidies as usual, and to disregard the provision of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 qualifying or limiting those who can avail of it as those only consuming 100 kwh and below.
Under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, a co-author of which is former congressman Eufrocino Codilla Sr, it is only after all consumers whose consumption is only 100 kwh and below shall have been subsidized that any “excess funds” can be allocated to those whose consumptions are over the cap.
This is good news to Ormoc’s more than 30,000 power consumers. But this is also bad news to the 100 kwh and below users as they will have to equally share the pie with the well-off.
The City will reportedly start releasing the subsidies by September 15, as soon as the ordinance is approved Thursday.
Mario C. Marasigan, director, said that in the lack of guidelines on how the subsidies shall be released as provided in the new law, he opined that “the local ordinance of Ormoc City intended for the payment of direct subsidy to all electric consumers regardless of consumption may be implemented without prejudice to the promulgation of implementing provisions of the direct subsidy by the concerned agencies.”
The job of promulgating the guidelines falls on the National Renewable Energy Board, which under the law, should have been constituted six months after the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 was signed by then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in December 2008. But obviously, the NREB did not do their work.
According to sources, as soon as the ordinance to release the funds is approved on 3rd reading, all registered power consumers in the city shall get an estimated P 1,270 each for 2010 and 2011.
It is not clear whether the city would throw in another P 18-million withheld by the city in 2009. If included, the consumers could get around P 2,000 each.
To recall, the city was poised to release the funds early this year. The council had already passed on second reading an appropriation ordinance authorizing the release of P 38.4-million of the annual royalties the city gets from power operators at its mountains.
It was shelved after city treasurer found out about the cap, as provided by the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. To recall, this is the very same law that Mayor Eric Codilla lambasted as not having been consulted with city officials and claimed it endangered the Special Education Fund as it reduced the local taxes it can get from the power plants in Tongonan. This was also the law that his own father co-authored.
Figures obtained from the City Treasurer’s Office then showed that the P 38.4-million was only for the 2010 and 2011 royalty payments. Some 31,635 registered electric consumers for 2010 will get P 625.00 each and 32,020 consumers will receive P 645.00 each or a total of P 1,270.00.
City Treasurer Angelo “Boy” Roman then said the sum represents 100% of the total subsidy releases for 2010 and 2011, including interest income.
However, no mention was made on some P 19-million left over from the 2007, 2008 and 2009 releases. To recall, the last subsidy release that Ormocanons received was shortly before the elections of 2010.
Now legislative consultant Atty. Mariano Corro, then a councilor, said that while the city had P 36-million in its coffers, the council decided only to release one half of the amount for fears that they might be accused of electioneering. He reasoned that the people have been used to receiving only around P 600 each, and might be surprised if they get double.
Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Codilla has reconstituted the Electrification Subsidy Council. It is composed of councilors Alfaro, Larrazabal, Tugonon, Pepito, Codilla, Capahi, treasurer Roman, city planning officer Cam, Atty. Corro who is now legislative consultant and Atty. Vestil, city legal officer. The private sector is represented by the presidents of the Ormoc Chamber and the Ormoc Chinese Chamber.
The council purportedly met last August 31 and the resolution “carried unanimously”. Brazil, however, said he was not able to attend the meeting because he was in Cebu to help attend to his sick father-in-law.
As of  February of this year, the city had P 62,875,439.62 in royalty funds that can be given out as direct subsidies. P 51.7-million, Roman said, is in a current account while P 11.7-million is in a savings account.
Of the amount, Roman said, P 3.6-million represented the subsidies from previous years that consumers did not get or collect. According to their books, P 394,000 posted as “due to others”, which he said only the accounting section would know.
The P 62.8-million, less the yet unclaimed subsidies and the “due to others”, still has a balance of P 58.8-million. If the P 38.4-million is taken from the P 58.8-million, this leaves the city some P 20.4-million in royalty funds that remain undistributed to electric consumers.
The city has since reportedly received the royalty payments for the first and second quarter of 2012, adding up to the 20.4-million balance.
Almost P 19-million of this is the remaining half of what Corro said in 2009 that the council decided to withhold to avoid accusations of electioneering.  It is also election year on 2013, and it is not clear if Corro and his old colleagues, most of who are still in the council, still have the same conviction.
But a copy of the resolution of the Electrification Subsidy Council dated August 31, 2012, just mentions of the P 38.4-million, or the royalty for 2010 and 2011.
Then, Corro during session, explained that the May 2010 elections was just around the corner, and they also did not want Ormocanons to be surprised and confused that they will receive more than P1,000 each if the funds are fully released because residents have been used to receiving an average of P 600 a year. He said the release of a bigger amount might be misconstrued, both by their political opposition and the people themselves.
After the 2009 release, it is only now that the residents will be receiving subsidies.
Roman, last February, said he only requested for the release of the funds for 2010 and 2011, including interests earned.
As for the balance from previous releases, he said it should be the electricity subsidy council that should decide its fate. Roman was vague as to why he cannot recommend its release just like for the 2010 and 2011 royalties.
Meanwhile, a lawyer reached for comment on Marasigan’s opinion said that the DOE executive could have missed out the “repealing clause” of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 which says that previous laws with provisions inconsistent to it are considered “repealed, modified or amended”.
By using the provisions on the Energy Power Industry Reform Act, an earlier law, “he has erased the substantial distinction as a requisite of the equal protection of law”.  By Lalaine M. Jimenea

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