Beltran urges BUSECO to issue refunds

Bukidnon 2nd District Board Member Atty. Nemesio Beltran, Jr. has filed a resolution before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan urging the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (BUSECO) to issue refunds. This, after numerous residential member-consumers of the said electric cooperative are “up in arms and outraged” over the alleged overcharges or grossly spiked billings for the months of March, April and May 2020.

Resolution Number 178-2020, which was unanimously approved May 19, 2020, enjoins BUSECO to “cease and desist from further passing on its income losses to the residential consumers in the Province of Bukidnon” and “to seriously consider effecting a refund or rebate for its unconscionable and outrageous excessive billings during the pandemic months of the year 2020.”

No meter readings

The Beltran-penned resolution also said that during the exchanges between the BUSECO management and the members of the SP, it was revealed that BUSECO did not conduct meter readings for the March and April billings. Instead, BUSECO merely computed the average 3 months power consumption of the households and came out with the “grossly irregular manner of billing.”

The resolution also stated that “in the months that the big consumer companies shut down operations due to the COVID-19 guidelines, BUSECO incurred a reduction of its sales income, equivalent to 61 centavos per kilowatt shortfall, and passed on its sales shortages to the residential consumers.”

“Thief in the night”

According to Beltran, this passing on of sales shortages is a “scheme being resorted to by public utility companies whenever they incur losses.”

“It is a scheme practiced by a “thief in the night,” because while the people are living in fear and preoccupied with the threat of the highly infectious and deadly corona virus, the BUSECO management surreptitiously handed out spiked or exorbitant billings, perhaps in the thought that the people would not notice it, and would not mind about it; a careless misreading of the people’s mind and emotions,” the Beltran-penned provincial resolution stated.

Copies of the unanimously approved resolution will also be sent to the Presidential Complaint Center, PMS, Department of Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission as well as to national, provincial and local municipal public officials.

What if the alleged spiked bill has been paid?

In case a member-consumer already paid, Beltran said that there has already been a precedent.

“BUSECO was ordered by the ERC to refund amounting to Php 54 million back in 2004 to 2009 until 2012. BUSECO was penalized by the ERC for “under recovery”,” the provincial legislator told Bukidnon Online.

“Walang personalan”

When asked what he thought of BUSECO’s advisory issued May 18, 2020 and duly signed by OIC Cristopher Dulfo whereby BUSECO refuted Beltran’s statement that they added the income losses due to the shutdown of industrial establishments to the residential consumers’ billings, Beltran had this to say: “They lied. Our transcript of records would belie their defense.”

“I am not mad. Walang personalan ito. This is a matter of public concern. Anyway, we invited them again in our next week’s session for them to refute our resolution,” Beltran told Bukidnon Online.

Not spared

Beltran himself said that he wasn’t spared from the spike in electricity bills. Their latest billing was for Php 5K. Last March, it was for Php 4,700 and prior to that, their billing was just about Php 3K.

Meanwhile, Bukidnon Second District Congressman Atty. Jonathan Keith Flores called Beltran’s move to encourage BUSECO to issue refunds “only proper and just.”

Flores, in a statement issued on his official Facebook page, said that “if it is true that BUSECO passed on its deficits due to the non-operation of large consumer companies to the residential member-consumers, then this is unfair and inhumane, to say the least.”

“At this time, we should all instead help and protect each and every member of our community. There is never a right time to take advantage of our fellowmen,” Flores added.

The Bukidnon solon also emphasized that as the voice of the Bukidnon 2nd District, he “will continue to keep a very close watch on matters of public concern including this issue with BUSECO.”

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