THE Panay Electric Cooperative (PECO) described as “inaccurate” and “overblown” the accusation of businessman Enrique Razon Jr. against the company as it accused the port magnate of resorting to feeding the public wrong information to justify his “illegal” takeover of one of the country’s oldest energy suppliers.
“What we are seeing in this latest vilification campaign, is that he (Mr. Razon) is now resorting to feeding the public wrong information to justify his railroading (effort) in Congress that could lead to the illegal take-over of PECO,” the company said in a statement.
Mr. Razon over the weekend appears to have taken a personal interest in justifying his mining company’s effort, MORE Electric, to grab the business of PECO as he went to the press and accused the company of various mismanagement issues.
These range from PECO maintaining old equipment, huge customer complaints like power interruptions and huge systems loss to imposing high electricity rates.
But PECO, in a statement, refuted point-by-point Mr. Razon’s allegations, saying it has diligently provided the power needs of Iloilo City households and businesses for 95 years and has been a partner in its development.
“Our company stands out among over 140 distribution utilities in the Philippines, a fact duly recognized by the Energy Regulatory Commission when we were awarded 100 percent ‘Fully Compliant’ in securing and insuring reliability of power supply in our franchise area: only 4 other distribution utilities in the country received that award.
“In addition, PECO has been given awards as a top tax payer of Iloilo City for decades,” PECO said.
PECO also revealed that there were 194 validated complaints with the ERC out of 64,000 customers or .003 person of its customer base, against the 1,800 complaints alleged by Razon.
“Only 25 (complaints) to date are pending ERC decisions with some involving power pilferage,” PECO added.
“As per ERC records as of 2017 (retail rates without VAT per kWh) the Province of Siquijor Electric Coop. Inc. charges P14.0763 and is the most expensive in the Visayas while PECO charges only P8.2079.
“There are 19 other utilities in the Visayas alone with higher rates than PECO. VECO (Visayan Electric Co.) of Cebu charges P8.1387, which is not much less than the rate of PECO,” it added further.
PECO also said its system’s loss for 2017 was pegged at 8.37 percent, which is below the ERC cap of 8.5 percent.
President Duterte in his speech in Palawan on November 10, 2018, recognized the issue involving PECO and questioned whether the takeover is justified or just an attempt to steal the business.
“Is it (take-over) justified? If PECO is providing good electricity at gusto mo (in oblique reference to mining firm MORE Electric’s maneuvering to grab the PECO business) lang makaagaw ng negosyo, ang sabi ko ay huwag na lang,” President Duterte said.
In boasting its service to Iloilo City, PECO said its corporate history is interwoven with the colorful history of Iloilo and Ilonggos. “With pride, we can say that we have built over decades a legacy of goodwill and service to Ilonggos -- and we hope that we will be remembered for that.”
PECO averred it is aware it is fighting a “Goliath,” referring to the stature of Razon and the resources he has expended thus far in an effort to grab the energy distribution business in Iloilo and nearby areas.
However, PECO said it is gathering strength and the “support” of Ilonggos in “this fight for what is just and right.”