PECO FRANCHISE RENEWAL: Ex-councilor urges Iloilo City officials to protect consumers

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

PANAY Electric Co. (PECO) is seeking to revive its congressional franchise as Iloilo City’s sole power distributor.

This, after Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano filed a bill that seeks to renew PECO’s congressional franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City on Aug 22, 2019.

Also known as Carapali Lualhati, Paduano is a former leader of the Alex Boncayao Brigade which broke away from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

He was one of the former co-authors of the same franchise bill in the previous Congress.

PECO Administrative Manager Marcelo Cacho confirmed in a phone interview on Friday that PECO’s application for congressional franchise was read in Congress last week.

“Sang Thursday last week it was read on the floor but it was referred to the committee on legislative franchises,” Cacho said.

Once passed, the franchise would be PECO’s “golden ticket” to continue distributing power in Iloilo City and prevent a new player, MORE Power Electric and Co. from taking over its assets.

MORE Power wants to take over power distribution services in Iloilo City after securing its congressional franchise via Republic Act 11212.

Interestingly, RA 11212 allows PECO to distribute power in the metro, despite the lack of franchise which already expired last January, while MORE Power is in the transition period.

The two power firms are currently locked in several court battles in an attempt to be the sole power distributor in the metro.

Cacho said they are already preparing the necessary documents to back up the franchise.

“Actually to check all the franchises and the franchises of MORE may ara da section that says that franchises are non-exclusive so meaning you can have as many franchise holders in one area as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, former councilor and PECO’s staunch critic, Atty. Joshua Alim welcomed the franchise renewal of PECO but he urged public officials to do something to protect the consumers.

Ila man na right after all wala man sang exclusivity ang franchise sang PECO and MORE. I trust that the mayor of the city, the congresswoman of the city, vice mayor and the councilors. They have to do something para sa protection sang mga konsumidor so kaya nila, they can do something about that,” he emphasized.

Alim said the public officials should be observant and evaluate if PECO’s franchise renewal is advantageous to the consumers.

“Our public officials in the city of Iloilo, sila naman ang manguna subong depende sa ila judgement kon ang pag file sang PECO (sang renewal) is more advantageous sa mga konsumidor or pumoluyo sang syudad. Ila na ina ya,” he said.

Alim and former councilor Plaridel Nava are the staunchest critics of PECO.

In fact, the two councilors alongside Presidential Consultant for Western Visayas Jane Javellana, and Iloilo resident Marigold T. Gonzalez, daughter of the late Justice secretary Raul M. Gonzalez Sr., filed a manifesto before the Senate to stop the renewal of PECO’s franchise last year.

PECO recently filed a criminal case against the four for allegedly damaging the company’s reputation. But Gonzalez was dropped from the charge sheet because of her minimal participation in the case.

PECO claimed that the four forged the signatures and falsified documents in violation of Articles 171 and 172 of the Revised Penal Code.