By: Francis Allan L. Angelo
PANAY Electric Company (PECO) is diverting the main issue of consumer dissatisfaction when it called out Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda for purportedly flip-flopping on the power distribution row in the city.
This was Baronda’s reaction to PECO’s statement published in Daily Guardian on Sept 16, 2019.
PECO’s statement was in reaction to the move of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to deny a bill seeking to grant a new franchise to the Cacho-owned firm.
In a separate statement emailed by her chief of staff, lawyer Jose Ricsan Tormon, Baronda said PECO’s statement “is a misplaced attempt to divert the issues and complaints against PECO which led to a widespread clamor from the electricity consumers of Iloilo City.”
The lady lawmaker’s office said she has been “candid during the entirety of the campaign leading to the May 13, 2019 elections that when the time comes, she will decide on what is best for the Ilonggo consumers.”
“It could be recalled that she (Baronda) has been consistent in saying that she will study whether or not it would be good to have two franchisees. Never ever did she say that she was for duopoly. It was also clearly stated by the Congresswoman that she was neither for PECO nor for More Electric and Power Corp.”
MORE Power is PECO’s rival firm which already secured the congressional franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City via Republic Act 11212.
Baronda’s office added that “no person or entity influenced her decision relative to PECO’s franchise application.”
“Neither was she prevailed upon by the National Unity Party (NUP) to vote against the franchise application of PECO. Rep. Baronda’s vote was based on a thorough and careful evaluation of the issue, and on the premise that her decision should be representative of what is best for the people.”
The neophyte solon also belied the insinuation of PECO when it said that “…we are a little tired of politicians who speak for public good when they need votes and jump in the pocket of powerful Manila interests when the time comes to do the right thing.”
“The aforesaid statement is baseless, false and borders on malice,” the statement added.
To recall, there are two pending cases that stemmed from Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 which granted MORE the franchise to operate and distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
The one initially filed before the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, and currently pending before the Higher Court, questioned the constitutionality of the said legal provisions of MORE’s franchise.
The other one filed in the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City sought to expropriate PECO’s distribution assets also by virtue of Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212.
In the latter case, a Writ of Possession has already been issued by the Court allowing MORE to take over PECO’s distribution assets.
Out of respect for the court cases, Baronda’s office said that the Committee Legislative Franchises decided to set aside PECO’s franchise bill.
“Had the Committee on Legislative Franchises, as of this time, voted for PECO’s franchise application, we would be adding to the already circuitous and complicated legal issues pending before the two courts. Thus, it was legally prudent to deny PECO’s application, at this time, given the fact that the constitutionality of Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212, is still up for resolution before the Supreme Court as the court of last resort. The decision, therefore, of the Committee on Legislative Franchises, of which Rep. Baronda is a member, was in keeping with the principle of judicial courtesy.”