Honeyman: Potpourri

Neil Honeyman

THE National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) has, more than once, found in favor of General Manger Sulpicio Lagarde who filed a case against the Board of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) for unfair dismissal. The Ceneco board has, however, refused to allow Lagarde to re-occupy his position as General Manager.

I understand that Lagarde has put out feelers to Ceneco Board members in an attempt to reach an agreed way forward.

In view of the NLRC’s decision, it would be churlish of the Ceneco board if it did not respond to Lagarde.

This is possibly a situation that requires mediation but whatever happens it should happen soon.

*****

It is good that the organization of the Region 18, or Negros Island Region (NIR), is making progress. The presence, last week, of senior officials at the NIR planning and investment workshop is welcome.

The officials included National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Efren Carreon, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Regional Director Margie Biligan and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Asteria Caberte.

One infrastructure project which has been proposed in the past is a bridge connection from Iloilo Guimaras and Guimaras to Negros. It now seems that Western Visayas is proposing that a Korean entity undertakes a feasibility study for an Iloilo to Guimaras bridge.

It would be regrettable if the separation of NIR from Western Visayas resulted in the feasibility of the full project (Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros) not being evaluated. A road link between Negros and Iloilo would intuitively generate substantial benefits.

*****

I am disappointed that Bureau of Inland Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares has allowed herself to be drawn into a media-fueled controversy about the payment by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach of income taxes due to the Philippines. There is no indication that Wurtzbach is seeking to evade her tax payments so it should be a non-issue. It would not be inappropriate for Henares to explain to the media that she does not comment on individual cases.

There was another situation a year or so ago involving Solenn Heussaff. It was not clear that Heussaff was trying to evade paying due taxes so that it was wrong of Henares to use an unfortunate metaphor “she cannot have her cake and eat it” in relation to Heussaff’s alleged failure to pay taxes. Clearly, Heussaff eats a lot less cake than Henares.

What we need from BIR is a corrupt-free operation in which the self-employed are not induced to bribe BIR officials on order to pay less taxes than they should. The BIR is a house that needs to be put in order. The straight path has a long way to go to reach BIR.

*****

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has an ever-increasing workload. This is regrettable since it has been reported that a number of senior ERC officials have resigned recently.

One important application to ERC has been submitted by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in which it is seeking to conduct a study on the proposed Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project. This is due to be heard by the ERC on Friday, February 19.

Of local interest, the Utilities Consumers Alliance of Negros (Ucan) has filed a motion for ERC to address its many motions it has submitted in the part dealing with the vexed question of Energreen.

Ucan alleged that Ceneco is asking ERC to grant it provisional authority so that it can charge consumers even if Energreen has not yet started delivering power.

Can this be true?

Surely not!