Alim defends meter reading ordinance, warns rap vs PECO

BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA

ILOILO City – Councilor Joshua Alim refuted the argument that the city government has no jurisdiction over power distribution utilities like Panay Electric Company (PECO).
He also threatened to file a charge against PECO – specifically its president – if the latter refuses to comply with the Meter Reading Card System Ordinance.
Alim authored the ordinance, which requires PECO to display in each consumer’s house or establishment a card on which the monthly consumption would be indicated every meter reading period.
But PECO recently asked the regional trial court to declare the Regulation Ordinance No. 2017-095 null and void.
Alim was expecting PECO to seek the help from the court.
“They (PECO) had been thinking about that even when the measure was still under deliberation,” he said in Hiligaynon.
Alim questioned PECO’s argument that only the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has jurisdiction over them.
“What are we in the city government for? Should we just let the people’s rights get trampled on? What do we tell them, that we can do nothing about their problem?” said the councilor, a lawyer by profession.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod passed the ordinance in June. The measure gives PECO a six-month allowance prior to full enforcement.
“If the court does not issue an injunction soon, and if PECO has not yet installed the cards after six months, we will start filing criminal charges against PECO for violation of the ordinance,” Alim said.
Alim believes the meter reading card system allows for a “check and balance” between PECO and its consumers. He said the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers provides for this.
Moreover, Alim does not think the content/framing of the ordinance is vague and thus invalid, as what PECO argues. “Long time ago, ginagamit na nila ang card nga sistema, ginabalik ko lang,” he said.
City Legal Office head Atty. Lorna Laurea said the city government has 15 days from Aug. 7 to reply to PECO’s complaint. She stressed that the ordinance is “presumed valid unless the court declares it otherwise.”/PN