Coalition warns of legal action, protests versus Ceneco JVA

The Anti-JVA Coalition press conference Thursday morning.*

The Anti-Joint Venture Coalition on Thursday, June 8, served notice to Central Negros Electric Cooperative and Primelectric Holdings Inc. officials that legal action may be taken against them.

“We are serving them notice today that if they do not desist from continuing a path that endorses the joint venture agreement despite its being clearly baseless and contrary to law then we will be compelled to file charges against them”, Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas secretary general, said at an Anti-Joint Venture Coalition press conference in Bacolod City.

“We will sue them not only to stop this nonsense, but also to hold them administratively accountable,” he said, adding that they are also exploring criminal liability.

“We are providing the CENECO board members the chance to retract their support, to retract their board resolution, otherwise they will remain complicit to the crime,” Pedrosa said.

The JVA was signed by CENECO president Jojit Yap and PHI president and chief executive officer Roel Z. Castro on Saturday, July 3, which will be subject to a plebiscite scheduled June 24 and 25 and July 1 and 2.

The JVA states that the joint venture company for purposes of facilitating PHI’s infusion of financial resources into the CENECO distribution system will be the Negros Electric and Power Corp. (NEPC), which is currently in the process of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

NEPC will pay for 70 percent of CENECO’s distribution assets and the 30 percent balance will represent the capital contribution of CENECO to the corporation, the JVA added.

Those who signed the JVA exceeded the limits of their authority and the upcoming plebiscite is illegal, Pedrosa said.

Pedrosa said seeking a restraining order on the plebiscite is also one of the legal remedies under the law, which they are considering. CENECO cannot be sold to a private company otherwise that would run contrary to the bylaws of CENECO, which uphold the principle that the cooperative should remain a non-profit operation.

CENECO cannot be sold to a private company otherwise that would run contrary to the bylaws of CENECO, which uphold the principle that the cooperative should remain a non-profit operation, said Pedrosa.


Ray Gorgonio, CENECO Union of Rational Employees (CURE) legal counsel, said they are not just taking legal action, it will be accompanied by massive protest actions.

CURE is also contemplating to file a notice of strike because of union busting, Gorgonio said.

The coalition members staged a protest in front of the CENECO building at Mabini Street after the press conference on Thursday.


Luke Espiritu, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino president and counsel for the Responsible Supervisory and Confidential Union of Employees, said consumers must understand that they are the owners of CENECO.

He said with the JVA the bulk of the distribution utility will be taken away from them and given to a firm of billionaire Enrique Razon.

“The billionaire will then undertake the distribution of electricity for profit, which will really be against consumers’ interest,” Espiritu said.

There have already been precedents of what happens after privatization, he said, citing the takeover of the Bacolod City Water District by another billionaire –Manny Villar, which did not translate into better services.

“In fact BACIWA’s services became worse and now we are going to do it again at CENECO,” Espiritu said.

The reputation of the CENECO board members who approved the JVA will live in infamy, and the government officials supporting it are complicit to the crime, Espiritu claimed.

Former partylist representative Pete Pico called the joint venture unconscionable, and Fr. Cris Gonzales said it was a betrayal


CENECO acting general manager Arnel Lapore said that is their perception, “but as far as the board is concerned what we are doing is in accordance with National Electrification Administration rules and regulations”

“The JVA is something that has to be decided by the CENECO general membership, which is even more demanding because you need the majority vote of all the members,” Lapore said.

There is nothing in the CENECO constitution that prohibits the participation of a private firm in CENECO through a joint venture agreement, he said.

Only 70 percent of the distribution assets of CENECO will be taken over by PHI that they deem important to the services to consumers, he said.

“The main objective of this is to give the best service we could give to our consumers,” Lapore said.

“CENECO needs to be modernized, especially since Bacolod is advancing so fast…we have to think of the greater number of people who wish to have better service,” he added.*

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