THE Panay Electric Company (PECO) has filed graft and criminal complaints against two Iloilo city councilors and a “self-styled consumer advocate” for allegedly submitting “falsified documents” before the two chambers of Congress resulting in the denial of the firm’s congressional franchise and its awarding to a start-up company owned by businessman Enrique Razon.
In a complaint-affidavit filed before the Department of Justice, PECO administrative head, Marcelo Cacho, averred that councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava and Jane Javellana forged the signatures of at least 27,000 customers out of PECO’s more than 54,000 customer base, to convince both houses of Congress not to renew its franchise on the basis of poor service and persistent power interruptions in its franchise area in the island of Panay.
Cacho said that Alim and Nava, both lawyers, failed to appear during the complaints’ preliminary hearing at the DOJ last Wednesday, September 4.
Cacho further averred that the accused “took advantage of their public office in order to deceive their own constituents into filing the falsified petition with thousands of fake signatures.”
PECO said the alleged spurious documents were not only presented before Congress to derail their franchise-renewal application but also, “to vilify PECO in various national and local media.”
“In using the falsified document bearing fake signatures at the hearings of the Senate Committee on Public Services and House of Representatives, respondents Alim and Nava likewise committed the act prohibited under paragraph 4 of (the Revised Penal Code) Article 171, that is, making untruthful statements in a narration of facts,” Cacho added.
For using a spurious document bearing 27,000 fraudulent signatures, Alim and Nava can also be held criminally liable for violation of provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Falsification and Use of Falsified Documents), he elaborated.
Relying on the presented documents, both chambers of Congress junked the franchise renewal application of PECO and then awarded the franchise to MORE Power, a company owned by Razon. President Duterte signed the new franchise early this year.
However, in a signed manifesto, PECO customers in Iloilo, including village leaders, declared they were “duped” into signing the petition against PECO by the accused.
Aside from filing of the criminal complaint, Cacho said they are also seeking P100 million in damages as a result of the negative campaign against the company.
“These are now all lost given the non-renewal of PECO franchise due to Alim and Nava’s criminal acts,” Cacho said.