Wednesday, December 6, 2017

ILOILO City – City hall will now cater to dissatisfied – if not irate – clients of public utilities.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III created a help desk that will accommodate complaints and concerns about services from Panay Electric Company (PECO) and Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD), among others.

The Public Utilities Concerns Desk will be handled by the city government’s Customer Care Center (CCC).

All complaints made via phone calls and letters or by personally showing up at city hall will be logged and referred to the concerned public utility, said CCC executive director Eireen A. Manikan.

According to Espinosa, the Public Utilities Concerns Desk was the city government’s response to clamor from customers who claim that public utilities like PECO and MIWD are not entertaining their complaints at all.

Espinosa issued Memorandum Order No. 240-B to create the Public Utilities Concerns Desk, which has the following functions:

* receive and record reports and concerns relative to the basic services of public utilities (e.g., PECO and MIWD) within Iloilo City’s jurisdiction and their personnel or agents

* facilitate all reports and concerns brought before the CCC and forward the same to the concerned utility

* monitor and make proper recordings of all reports and concerns brought before the CCC and the actions taken

* evaluate and make recommendations thereon, which may be acted upon by the city government or endorsed to the city council as reference for any future resolution or ordinance

Complainants who want to reach the Public Utilities Complaints Desk may head to the CCC at the 7th floor of the Iloilo City Hall building, inside the Office of the City Administrator.

The Desk may also be reached via the CCC hotline (033) 3370788.

Nobody should hesitate in calling the Public Utilities Concerns Desk, said the mayor.

Under the Parens Patriae doctrine, the government has an obligation to protect the rights of its citizens, Espinosa said.

Public utilities in the city have been a subject of complaints from consumers – PECO for poor customer complaints service and erroneous electric meter readings, and MIWD for unreliable water distribution.

Such inefficiencies, among others, prompted the Sangguniang Panlungsod to push for the nonrenewal of PECO’s franchise and seek a government takeover of the sole power distribution utility in the city.

More than 25,000 residents also signed a petition making the same demand. They wanted the government to take over the power distribution service until a better player comes in.

PECO’s franchise is expiring in 2019. It seeks to renew it for 25 more years.

During a recent congressional hearing on PECO’s franchise renewal, the legal counsel of the Energy Regulatory Commission said the government could not immediately take over PECO’s operation.

Should there be a power distribution utility interested to come in, a couple of years may not be enough for it to get a hang of the operation, Atty. Krisha Buela told members of the House of Representatives committee on legislative franchises.

A committee member, Rep. Rene Relampagos (Bohol), told PECO, “You improve your service because that is the complaint eh.”

“PECO assures that we will do something about the problems nga ginpang-raise,” PECO vice president Randy Pastolero told Panay News after the hearing. “We have programs to address these.”

In a related development, PECO continuously re-clusters electric meters disorganized due to wear and tear.

Seventy-one meters have so far been re-clustered in Barangay Ticud, La Paz district, said Mikel Afzelius, chief communications officer.

“Re-clustering [will] prolong the life span of the meters by properly mounting them in the post to avoid damage,” Afzelius said. “[It] also helps meter readers locate and read the meters more accurately.”

Small nuisance outages may be avoided, too, since the 220-volt secondary lines will be better secured, he said.

PECO will re-cluster meters in Nabitasan, also in La Paz, next. It is expected to be completed within the month.

The power distribution utility plans to re-cluster meters in more than 400 sites up until mid-2018, Afzelius said./PN


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