AFP vows to pay up

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) relented to government pleading that it update its payments yesterday to power distributors as it pledged to settle unpaid electricity bills of some P10.9 million, including penalties and surcharges.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had pleaded with different government organizations, including the AFP, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, to clear some P17 million in electricity service bill debts.

The AFP owes the biggest amount which the military promises to pay provided it is given a grace period.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo sought an extension and a degree of understanding from power distributors.

Arevalo said it usually takes from a week to a month before it can release the first tranche of the check to pay its arrears.

The Daily Tribune came out with Cusi’s reminder to government agencies to settle their electricity service payables last 24 October.

“The service providers of our electricity, the coops, give us only a week to settle our bills. And we can’t comply because of the procedural requirement before paying,” Arevalo said.

Cusi has taken state institutions with utility payables to task, saying the debts may affect the country as it may lead to a “weak and unstable operational performance” of different electricity coops in the country.

23 co-ops seek collections

Citing data from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Cusi said the amount was owed to 23 electric cooperatives across the country.

One cooperative is in the Ilocos region, five are in Southern Tagalog, two in Bicol, one in Western Visayas, three in Eastern Visayas, two in the Zamboanga Peninsula, one in Davao, five in Soccsksargen and three in Caraga.

In Zamboanga City, the Philippine Naval Station owed the local distributor some P4 million, followed by nearby Edwin Andrews Air Base, P3.5 million.

The PNP owed a total of P5.3 million, with the command in Zamboanga City accounting for P1.7 million.

The Coast Guard owes cooperatives close to P316,000 while the NBI is behind its payments by P315,000.

Debt affects gov’t goals

“Being part of the government, we need to be earnest in pursuing energy resiliency and efficiency,” Cusi said.

For the government to attain its energy goals, agencies must be able to uphold their commitment “to our stakeholders and service providers.”

“As we’ve been pushing massive electrification, energy efficiency and security of the country, I am pleading on behalf of the distribution utilities, including the electric cooperatives, to the concerned government institutions to settle their outstanding accounts,” he said.

DUs and ECs collect revenue to generate cash flow that would enable them to provide efficient and sustainable services to the areas they serve, Cusi said.

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