Solon cites need for PECO franchise extension

October 09, 2018

A PARTY-LIST congressman said yesterday Congress, especially the House committee on legislative franchises will be made accountable should power disruption hits Iloilo City as a result of its failure to renew the franchise application of the Panay Electric Company (PECO).

Anak Mindanao party-list Rep. Makmod Mending, a lawyer, questioned why the panel chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez did not act on the application of PECO whose franchise will expire at the end of the year and despite the consent of the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) to continue its operations as early as November 22, 2017.

“Congress will face people’s wrath if the non-renewal of PECO’s franchise will result to power crisis in Iloilo City,” said Mending who insisted that the Alvarez panel should have at least allowed the provisional extension of PECO’s franchise for one to two years so that there would be smooth transition in case another firm takes over its operations.

“There should be two years extension of PECO’s franchise at the maximum to allow smooth transition and avoid power disruptions,” said Mending.

PECO executive Randy Pastolero lamented the expeditious action of the House of Representatives in approving MORE’s application while sitting on their franchise renewal, adding this is an alleged threat to franchise-holding power firms.

PECO’s alarm is echoed by the Private Electric Power Operators Association (PEPOA) as the latter also opposed the granting of franchise to MORE Minerals Corp (MMC), whose corporate name and business purposes were, only days ago, allegedly changed to MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MEPC), in reaction to criticisms that it did not have the technical and personnel assets to operate an electricity distribution network and was purportedly under-capitalized.

In his letter on behalf of PEPOA, its president, Atty. Ranulfo M. Ocampo, informed the Alvarez panel of their opposition to said grant to MEPC.

“A company that has no experience and qualifications to run an electric distribution utility will put (Iloilo) city in high risk of a power crisis,” said Ocampo.

PECO’s Pastolero also said that MEPC’s president reportedly admitted at the September 26 hearing of the Alvarez committee that MORE allegedly did not have the assets to operate the franchise and is merely banking on the of PECO’s infrastructure and personnel.

Mending is one of the co-author of House Bill (HB) No. 6023 principally filed by Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo seeking extension of PECO’s franchise.

Other co-authors include Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen S. Paduano, and ACTS OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III.

This developed as the House of Representatives on Monday night voted 211 against 4 approving House Bill (HB) No. 8132 or the franchise application of MORE Minerals Corp., now renamed MORE Electric and Power Corp., for electricity distribution despite PECO’s existing franchise.

The approval was seen by PECO as a way to allow MORE to take over its operations allegedly using the power of Congress to expropriate under HB No. 8132 that the Alvarez panel endorsed.

During Monday’s night plenary voting, Mending, Teves, Paduano, and House Deputy Minority Leader and COOP NATCCO party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo voted against the passage of MORE’s franchise application.