‘Competition to improve service, lower prices’

ILOILO City – Panay Electric Co. (PECO) took to task Cong. Julienne Baronda for what it described as her flip-flopping stand on power distribution.

According to PECO, promoting competition improves service and lower prices, thus it found the shift in Baronda’s stand strange.

“She declared during the election campaign that multiple power franchises instead of a single monopoly is the best way to ensure that Ilonggo citizens get the best prices and services,” according to PECO in a statement.

On Sept. 11 during the hearing of PECO’s franchise application with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, Baronda as member voted to reject the application. She also stressed that MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) which secured a power distribution franchise for Iloilo City should be given a chance to operate.

Instead of trying to guess whether the incumbent provider or a new, inexperienced utility group will do a better job, get both and let them fight for their share of Ilonggo customers, PECO stressed.

“And frankly, we are a little tired of politicians who speak for public good when they need votes and jump in the pocket of powerful Manila interests when the time comes to do the right thing,” PECO added.

Baronda dismissed insinuations her stand was due to her membership with the National Unity Party which is reportedly supported by MORE Power owner businessman Enrique Razon.

“No one can dictate what I should do or say, only my people. Majority of the Ilonggos are fed up with the service of PECO. That’s what I have been hearing all this time. That’s what the Ilonggos have been telling me. I am their voice in the halls of Congress and what I did was to tell Congress what the Ilonggos think.”

According to the congresswoman, her paramount consideration on this issue is the general welfare of her fellow Ilonggos.

“All distribution utility franchises are impressed with public interest, including Republic Act 11212 [MORE Power’s franchise],” stressed Baronda, and that “utility franchises are for the benefit of the people. Hence, the outcome of this issue should benefit the city of Iloilo.”

Baronda assured the public she would remain vigilant and invoke the power of Congress to exercise its oversight function should MORE Power fail to deliver on its commitment of better and cheaper electricity./PN


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