ILOILO CITY – The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) today urged the Energy Regulatory Commission to reject of petition of the Panay Electric Company (PECO) to have its electricity power purchase agreement (PPA) approved with one of its sister companies.

In a public hearing initiated by the ERC held at the Iloilo Business Hotel here, FDC submitted its intervention and was represented by its chair, Ted Aldwin Ong, and lawyer Romeo P. Gerochi who stands as counsel for the intervenors.

“This ‘sweetheart deal’ is onerous and will further result in exorbitant electricity,” FDC-Iloilo said.

It is recalled that last August, PECO inked a new contract for a 64-MW supply of electricity from Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC), the operator of the 164-MW coal-fired power plant in Barangay Ingore, La Paz, Iloilo City.

FDC-Iloilo said that the power company is again on the move to seal a new contract which has the same onerous characteristic with its existing power purchase agreement with another sister company Panay Power Corporation (PPC) – the operator of the 72-MW diesel-fired power plant.  

For his part, Gerochi said that the new application, “if left unchallenged, will pave the way for the approval of a new contract, when in fact, PECO still has an existing PPA with its current supplier PPC.”  
 
“The PECO-PEDC application states that their contract with PPC is under negotiation for possible amendment. This is unjust and puts the consumers again on the losing end. We demand that PECO simultaneously submit application for new contract together with a petition to amend its existing contract with PPC that way consumers will not be burdened by the cost of electricity served by two contracts,” stressed Gerochi.
 
FDC-Iloilo’s Ong said that the Ilonggos are “again being made to believe that this application will result in cheaper electricity when it is not.”
 
“The application is undersupplied with many necessary details which has an impact on the cost of electricity,” added Ong.   
 
Ong also emphasized that the technical description of its operations is also highly contentious because PECO is sourcing power from its three sister companies – PPC, Avon River Holdings, Inc. and now PEDC.

Protest action

Outside the venue of the hearing, members of the group also staged a protest action.

“We are here today not only to attend the hearing but to register our protest on the new contract between PECO and PEDC and to dramatize the plight of the Ilonggo consumers who has been suffering from PECO’s poor service and expensive electricity,” said Vophi E. Pendon, FDC-Iloilo secretary-general.

Pendon underscored that since January, the City has been suffering from daily rotating blackouts. On the days approaching the hearing schedule these blackouts further intensified.

“For us, this is a deliberate effort in order to condition the minds of the public that a new contract is necessary to address the scenario of a lack of power supply,” said Pendon.

“However, a close scrutiny of PECO’s power supply and demand data would reveal that power supply is sufficient and, in fact, it is not fully optimized. So why the blackouts?” stressed by Pendon.

Led by FDC-Iloilo, other protesters include officers and leaders of the Iloilo City Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (ICAJODA), Partido nga Manggagawa (PM), Katulong ng Bayan, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), and Akbayan Youth.     

Most expensive electricity

“Workers are the most affected by PECO’s expensive electricity as close to 80 percent of their monthly wage only goes to paying PECO bills,” said PM Panay-Guimaras coordinator Ronald Payda.

“Where is justice here when electricity consumption alone pushed us to hunger? The abuses of PECO must end now and we have been demanding that the City Government take over this utility in order to protect the interest of the consumers,” Payda added.

The groups claimed that the Iloilo City has now the “most expensive electricity in the world.” They said that a residential consumer with an average consumption of 195-kwh monthly electricity coughs-out an average of P12.95 per kilowatt-hour.

“Worse, Iloilo City has the worse quality of service as blackouts has become an hourly occurrence while consumers pay the same amount of electricity without even explaining to the public why the lack of electricity,” stressed Ong.

Corporate greed

“PECO has reached the height of corporate greed and arrogance as a result of its monopoly of market power and has been liable for overcharging millions of pesos to its consumers. It is time for the consumers to take-over PECO; and we demand that ERC reject the current application for the contract is onerous making it disadvantageous to consumers,” said Ong (30)  


Freedom from Debt Coalition – Iloilo Chapter
Address: 185 Jereos St., La Paz District, 5000 Iloilo City           
Phone: (63-33) 508-2028
Email: fdc.iloilochapter(at)yahoo(dot)com

Contact Persons:  
Ted Aldwin E. Ong, chairperson, @ +63.919.930.8908
Vophi E. Pendon, secretary-general, @ +63.905.616.0512

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