BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
A local consumers’ group is asking the Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. to impose a moratorium on bills payment for household consumers who need relief from their obligations amid the pandemic.
In a statement yesterday, Konsyumer-Negros said Bacolod City has the most number of Covid-19 cases in Western Visayas and the city and Negros Occidental provincial governments had taken an aggressive step by announcing a four-day lockdown, on August 28 to 31, so that mass testing could be conducted.
This is a good intervention but the regular consumers will be again affected as they may lose their jobs or be subjected to a limited workday arrangement, the group said, adding this is reflected with the current 45.5 percent unemployment rate in the country, or around 27 million who are out of work due to months-long lockdowns.
“This current crisis led consumers to either be delayed in their payment of electric bills or, worst, not to be able to afford to pay their bills as the situation is worsening. Any initiative to provide relief to consumers will be of much help in their struggles,” the group stressed.
They are calling on Ceneco to help provide relief to its consumers and impose a moratorium on the payment of bills by household consumers until the quarantine has been completely lifted.
“I think this will be an opportunity for Ceneco to set itself apart from a privatized distribution utility and prove that it is truly a service-oriented cooperative… this is one thing that a privatized utility can never do, sacrifice profit over service,” Griderick Alila, Konsyumer-Negros provincial coordinator, said.
Ceneco, through Maria Agnes Claro, officer-in-charge of the Office of the General Manager, reiterated yesterday that it has suspended disconnection activities until August 31.
Ceneco understands the plight of its member-consumers during this pandemic, Claro said.
She added that bills could be paid at the Ceneco offices, Robinsons collection center, Alvio collection centers, and accredited banks.*