‘Rep. Baronda flip-flopped’

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

PANAY Electric Co (PECO) hit back at two lawmakers for justifying the decision to junk the bill seeking a new franchise to the sole power distributor in Iloilo City.

In a statement, PECO called out Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda for walking back on her original position on the issue.

PECO cited that Baronda was for competition instead of monopoly in the power industry.

“It is an established fact that promoting competition is how you improve service and lower prices. Which is why we find this shift in attitude by the congresswoman strange considering she declared during her election campaign, that multiple power franchises instead of a single monopoly is the best way to ensure that Ilonggo citizens get the best prices and services,” the statement read.

The power firm said competition is “the true will of the people and is one that PECO fully supports.

“Instead of trying to guess whether the incumbent provider or a new, inexperienced utility group will do a better job; get both and let them fight for their share of Ilonggo customers. After all, nobody seriously believes rotating monopolies will make any difference and frankly, 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.”

PECO also rapped Rep. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur for missing some points when they claimed that the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, simply sided with the people of Iloilo City when it dismissed the bill on Wednesday.

The Cacho-led power distributor said that they are not surprised with Baronda’s stand since she is a member of the National Unity Party which is identified with businessman Enrique Razon, the owner of rival firm MORE Electric and Power Corp.

PECO also pointed out that Pimentel did not take into consideration the efforts of the firm to address complaints lodged by consumers.

The firm said the Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and 130 barangays in Iloilo City recognized PECO’s efforts to provide better services.

“Rep. Pimentel capitalized on sporadic anecdotal complaints but he completely ignored commendations of DOE, ERC and the resolution of 130 barangays supporting PECO,” the statement added.

Had the committee considered the bill and conducted the necessary hearings, it could have gathered the thoughts of concerned agencies such as DOE and ERC on the matter.

Aside from ignoring the DOE and ERC, Pimentel and Baronda also totally ignored the fact that majority of complaints were already resolved.

“The ERC even mediated in resolving the issues which were amply addressed. But what happened was they twisted the explanations of the ERC on the issue.”