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Solon slams MORE Power attempts to silence consumers

AKO BISAYA Party-List Representative Sonny Lagon blasted More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) for pursuing deceptive tactics rather than addressing the operational shortcomings of Iloilo City’s power distribution utility in an obvious attempt to silence the electricity consumers of Iloilo, whose complaints on MORE Power’s poor service continue to pile up.

“Wala silang sariling facilities pero pinayagan silang mag-takeover. Dapat nagkaroon muna sila ng konkretong plano bago sila pinayagang pumasok ng Iloilo City,” said Lagon in a phone interview. “At dahil hindi wasto ang kanilang serbisyo, nahihirapan ang mga kapatid nating taga-Iloilo City.”

The criticism comes at a critical time when MORE Power has been accused of attempting to silence consumers following the revelation of a potential breach of the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) 6.25% cap on excess system loss charges.

According to consumer advocacy group Koalisyon Bantay Kuryente (KBK), MORE Power had endorsed the registration of an imposter KBK to suppress the voices of Ilonggo consumers who raised the alarm over the potential P20.9 million in fraudulent overbilling that resulted from the breach of the ERC cap.

Earlier in June, Lagon had filed House Resolution No. 785, which sought a congressional probe into the power situation of Iloilo City to prevent the adverse economic and social impact that MORE Power’s poor service had on the city.

“Before kasi nung si PECO (Panay Electric Company) nag-operate diyan, hindi naman talaga na-experience ng mga tao ng Iloilo City ang mga ganitong brownouts. Kung umasa lang sila kay MORE sa ngayon, since wala pang kumpletong facilities si MORE, talagang hindi maiwasan na magkaroon ng mga brownout sa Iloilo City,” said Lagon in an earlier statement.

Makati City Pabakuna

The power situation in Iloilo City represents the Philippines’ first time that power distribution assets have been the prize of a predatory takeover by another private entity.

“Dumaan naman sa due process. Pero sabihin na nating hilaw,” said Lagon.

The takeover has sparked the discussion of its impact on policy and precedent-setting, and constitutional experts such as Ateneo School of Governance Dean Tony La Viña have voiced their fears that this model could expose other power distributors to unconstitutional expropriation of assets.

La Viña previously noted that the expropriation itself served no public necessity and only served to give unwarranted benefits to MORE Power. According to him, MORE Power’s expropriation had violated PECO’s right to property, to due process, and against the unlawful taking of its assets as those rights exist independently of any franchise granted by Congress.

“Nagtake-over po sila eh, kaya’t sana i-address nila ang problema. Simula po kasi noon, marami nang problemang nangyayari,” said Lagon in May.