ILOILO, Philippines - The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC-Iloilo) has renewed its call for a public take-over of Panay Electric Company (PECO) in the midst of the slow implementation of the P631-million refund order issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission November 2009.
 
The sole power distribution utility of Iloilo City started refunding February this year or two months after the order was handed down by the regulatory body for overcharges covering February 1998 to July 2005 or totaling to 9-years.
 
However, FDC-Iloilo disclosed that the millions it overcharged will take close to 9-years to complete refunding because the amount which the ERC approved is only 16 centavos per kiloWatt-hour.
 
Lawyer Romeo P. Gerochi, chairperson of FDC-Iloilo said “if we continue to tolerate these kinds of malpractices by power utilities like PECO then they will just continue to milk consumers with millions of pesos by overcharging them without them being aware of it.
 
After all, Gerochi explained, “they seem sure that they could secure ERC decision for a stagger refund of its overcharges over a long period of time.”
 
“This must be stopped the reason why we are renewing our demand that the City Government initiate the move to take-over PECO especially that the company’s value and assets is only estimated to a total of P500-million, short of the amount it is directed to refund which is P631-million,” emphasized by Gerochi.   
 
“This injustice is unacceptable,” lamented Lorlene Andon, a consumer from Mandurriao district and member of Partido ng Manggagawa.
 
“Imagine that almost 80-percent of our hard-earned monthly income goes to paying monthly PECO bills only to learn later that our payments where padded with overcharges,” added Andon.
 
“Those overcharges could have been added to our daily budget for food, transportation, and medicine,” lamented Andon.
 
On the other hand, Lovelyn Monsale another consumer of PECO from Jaro district said that her siblings could have missed enrolling in school after their parents prioritized paying PECO bills instead of their tuition fee for they are afraid to be inconvenienced of electricity service disconnection of PECO.   
 
The plight of consumers was illustrated by the group in its picket outside the office of PECO along Gen. Luna St., which read: “Sweldo ko nagkadto lang sa PECO” and “Tuition ko nagkadto lang sa PECO” while demanding to take-over PECO in order to put a stop to its monopoly and abuse.
 
The group has been pushing to democratize the power utility by converting the refundable amount into equity shares of consumers after the ERC issued its first refund order dated July 2006 directing PECO to return over-recoveries totaling to a whopping P2.89-billion.
 
However, PECO filed a ‘motion for reconsideration’ before the ERC which took 3-years for the regulatory body to resolve putting on hold the implementation of the refund until its recent order was handed down November last year reducing the amount to P631-million.
 
Hence the FDC’s petition renewing its call addressed to the City Government to take action on the refund order by initiating a take-over of the power utility. (30)


Freedom from Debt Coalition – Iloilo Chapter
Address: 185 Jereos St., La Paz District, Iloilo City 5000, Philippines          
Phone: +63.33.508.20.28
Email: fdc.iloilochapter@yahoo.com
Contact persons:  
Atty. Romeo P. Gerochi, chairperson +63.919.575.56.58
Ted Aldwin E. Ong, secretary-general, +63.919.930.89.08

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