APEC shows ultimate greed by depriving the townspeople of Rapu-Rapu of electricity
Down and broken by decades of mining exploitation, Rapu-Rapu faces another attack from greedy big bourgeois compradors. Despite the countrywide economic devastation of CoVid 19 pandemic and the series of super typhoons last year, the management of San Miguel Corporation which now runs APEC (previously publicly owned ALECO) deemed it wise to deprive the citizens of Rapu-Rapu of much needed electric services.
The current economic turmoil brought on by the Duterte regime has mired the majority of the country’s population in debt. The whole neoliberal system it worships has left the Filipino people in a state of mendicancy. As the regime squander(s) trillions of pesos on a war campaign against its citizenry, millions of jobless Filipinos are left with no recourse to pay for their daily survival needs, much less basic services such as water, electricity, shelter and healthcare. SMC’s utter gluttony only exposes the failure and the tantamount dangers of privatizing basic services and public utilities. In its bid to amass profits it endangers the already flailing lives and livelihood of Albayanos.
Almost a decade ago, the provincial government under Joey Salceda, in collusion with the local ruling class seated in the board of directors of ALECO instigated the first ever privatization of a publicly owned electric cooperative. Due to the national policy of worshipping the tenets of its neoliberal masters (privatization, deregulation and liberalization) San Miguel Corporation, now controlled by Ramon Ang, eventually acquired the cooperative. The citizens of Albay fervently opposed APEC’s acquisition of ALECO and have subsequently fought against the exorbitant fees that the company soon imposed upon Albayanos. Years later, APEC’s promise of better services proportionally dipped alongside the ever rising electricity bill that consumers received each month.
Public utilities and services are the state’s obligation. Public oriented services and profit making is like oil and water. The latter always betrays the former. Bent on meeting their profit benchmark even in the direst of times, APEC has taken the whole town of Rapu-Rapu as a hostage and it has warned to do the same to other towns in the province of Albay.
San Miguel Corporation’s revenue has reached P17.2 billion just in the first quarter of 2021. This is 1,471% higher compared to its last year’s earnings for the same period. SMC Global Power Holdings’ reported revenue is still pegged at P27.4 billion even in the midst of the pandemic due to lower fuel costs and operating expenses. Rapu-Rapu owes a measly .12% of SMC GPH’s current revenue. Surely it will not drive Ramon Ang, one of Duterte’s campaign contributors and close ally, to bankruptcy. After all he has amassed wealth throughout the dictator’s reign. Last 2017, he was the 11th richest man in the Philippines with an estimated reported wealth of 1.4 billion DOLLARS or Php 68.6 billion. By March 2021, his reported net worth has reached Php 107.8 billion, which puts his average earnings at P29.5 million per day. Regular employees in Bicol hardly earn P310 a day, while copra growers have average earnings of P30 per day.
SMC and Ramon Ang’s interests in Bicol are not limited to electric services. Ang has aggressively expanded San Miguel Corporation’s portfolio into undertaking mergers and acquisitions delving on mining, public infrastructures and media arms. This year, the Duterte regime has lifted the moratorium in mining contracts.
The US-Duterte regime and its cronies, are mistaken to think that they can browbeat Rapu-Rapu citizens (much more Albayanos) into submission. Bicolanos have shown that when faced with adversity, they stand together with their fellow oppressed and exploited. The townspeople of Rapu-Rapu, the Bicolano people and their supporters have successfully driven away the destructive mining operations of La Fayette Mining Corporation, a foreign multinational corporation.
NDF-Bicol calls on the entire province of Albay and its sister provinces in the region to stand with the Rapu-Rapu townspeople in their fight against big capitalist economic aggression. Bicolanos must wield their united strength in all fronts against the barrage of destructive mining interests and other capitalist ventures in the whole region. NDF-Bicol also salutes anti-mining advocates across the region and the country resolutely educating and fighting for the generations of Filipinos who will benefit from their advocacy.