New electricity service provider MORE Electric and Power Corporation have been pummeling Iloilo City consumers with a double whammy of persistent brownouts and soaring electricity bills, hence, they are now pleading for urgent action and attention from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
The Iloilo consumers are also elevating their hue and cry to the Supreme Court, which is the ultimate judicial body that could resolve the ownership of the power utility that could end their dilemmas of never-ending service interruptions and electric bills that have doubled and with errors yet without explanation being offered by MORE Power to the affected customers.
“Iloilo is dying and needs the help of President Duterte and the Supreme Court. The lights are out in Iloilo because of MORE Power. Their long and frequent brownouts are killing our businesses and livelihoods, and they are disrupting our essential medical services,” Ruperto Supena, chairman of the Koalisyon Bantay Kuryente (KBK) in Iloilo City, has raised emotionally.
Supena stressed, “most especially, we need the President to intervene, so he can keep a watchful eye on those who would exploit us.”
KBK Coordinator Jose Allen Aquino reiterated their plea to Congress on the immediate investigation of the brownouts in the area, as they vowed on hastening information gathering and collating all consumer-complaints that will then be submitted as evidence and basis of the probes that shall be done at the legislative branch.
Supena also called on Congress to review the franchise granted to MORE Power, stressing that “there is still time for Congress to change its mind on granting that franchise to MORE given the technical incompetence they have been exhibiting in their provision of service to Iloilo consumers.”
He further appealed to the other national government agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for serious and immediate action, as he emphasized that while the plight of the customers of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) are given paramount attention, the uproar of Iloilo City consumers seems continually falling on deaf ears.
“Meralco is being investigated by the government, so why is our situation not being looked into?” he asked; while he reiterated that “we need the Supreme Court to settle this matter, and for the DOE and the ERC to step in and make sure we are no longer abused by lack of service.”
In a recent Council meeting, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas forthrightly told MORE Power President Roel Castro that “the people of Iloilo deserve more, and MORE Power promised “more”; and we are still waiting for MORE to give us the “more.”
Iloilo City Councilor Alan Zaldivar, for his part, has castigated Castro, telling him that: “our clear message to MORE is that you are not ready to give quality service to Iloilo City.”
Another City Councilor Ely Estante had also given the chief executive of MORE Power a dressing down, stressing that “mas mayo tani nagbakal na lang sila sang ila facilities, other than e-expropriate mo kag kwaon ang facilities ng PECO (Panay Electric Company), dapat kuntani hindi pa sila magastusan sang todo for the repair.” (Mas mabuti sana kung bumili na lang sila ng kanilang facilities kesa e-expropriate pa nila ‘yong mga facilities ng PECO, di pa sana sila gumastos ng todo para sa repair).
Councilor Ed Peñaredondo further urged MORE Power to commit what it can do soonest to improve power supply in the area, since this is already turning out to be a major dilemma in attracting investors in Iloilo City.
“Power supply is very bad. Water, power, infrastructure – roads and bridges, then good governance. But number one is: water and power should perform. Sometimes you meet the supply requirements, sometimes you do not supply. So, if that is the case, we cannot convince our investors to come over,” the city councilor pointed out.
Based on data logs, it was noted that the frequency of brownouts caused by MORE Power already totaled 326 hours since it took over power distribution in Iloilo City in February until end-June this year.
Mikel Afzelius, corporate communications and external affairs officer of PECO, said “there have been a total of 326 hours when Iloilo had been plunged into darkness. We have to let that sink in – 326 hours of the suffering of our people. That already doubled the outage duration when compared to PECO within the same timeline last year.”
He noted in particular that “the 13-hour, more or less, power outage that happened on June 20 in Mandurriao, based on the information from MORE itself, is something that could have been fixed in around one hour at most.”