A broad consumer group of electricity users with 50 member-organizations today expressed opposition to the pre-bidding conference that the government would be holding for the National Transmission Corporation citing several negative effects over the sale of its assets and liabilities to private hands.
EmPOWER Consumers said bidding out Transco’s assets, which is vested with public interest, poses a threat on the national security with a private company taking hold of all the transmission lines in the country.
“The winning bidder of Transco would be holding the switchboard of the entire country and has the power to turn it off at will. Even Malacañang would be on its knees before Transco’s would-be owners begging for electricity once this happens,” warned the group.
Milo N. Tanchuling, EmPOWER Consumers spokesperson and Freedom from Debt Coalition secretary general, said the public and the government would be at the mercy of the private company which would own Transco.
“The private company that would own Transco would only be accountable to its owners and not to the public. It could do whatever it wants with the transmission lines, hold power at source or raise prices exorbitantly to recover costs,” he said.
News accounts showed that the number of bidders pre-qualified to bid for the National Transmission Corp.’s 25-year concession contract has been trimmed down to three.
These include Terna-Rete Elettrica Nazionale S.P.A. of Italy with Two Rivers Holdings Pacific of the Metro Pacific group of businessman Manny Pangilinan; Malaysian group Tenaga Nasional Berhad with Newbridge Asia LLP in partnership with Triratna Holdings; and State Grid of China with Monte Oro Resources.
Tanchuling also berated Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. Jose Ibazeta for his announcement that the bidding of Transco would be done behind closed doors.
Ibazeta said the bidding would be done out of the public eye as requested by the bidders to withhold their identity from the people.
Tanchuling said he finds no reason for government to sell such a company which is bringing in the money for government in terms of revenues and exchange it for spot cash.
“What is more important to PSALM? The interest of the public or of these private bidders. For a company which owns P15 billion annually and provides the connection between generation and distribution, there is so much public interest at stake that Transco’s bidding could not be done behind closed doors,” he added.
He pointed out that holding Transco’s bidding out of public scrutiny violates Art. II, Sec. 28 and Article III, Sec. 7 the Constitution and the Government Procurement Act (RA 9184) which mandates that there must be “transparency in the procurement process” and guarantees “public monitoring” to ensure that the bidding process is done in accordance to the law.
Tanchuling said bidding out Transco to a private company would only provide immediate relief but long-term pain with rates expectedly going up once the transmission company is privatized.
He noted that the winning bidder of Transco would have clean books as the loans incurred by the company would be absorbed by the government and passed on to the public.
“The Philippines is rich in experience in terms of privatization and we have already witnessed with our very eyes the horrors it brings to us. We do not expect anything good to happen to this undertaking besides giving the people more reason to castigate the government for its endless miseries,” he said.
Tanchuling said Transco should remain public to ensure a steady and reliable supply of electricity nationwide and all privatization efforts by the government on the power industry should be put to stop.
Draft Press Statement
November 14, 2007