LAST WEEK, Friday to be exact, I had an interesting chat with Marcelo Ugarte Cacho, lately the Administrative Manager of Panay Electric Co. a.k.a. PECO. To say that it was interesting is an understatement although I find it rather amusing.
The topic obviously was the latest fiasco of PECO when its second attempt at applying for a franchise as power provider of “I Am Iloilo City” failed miserably, after their franchise expired and Congress decided to grant the franchise to another power provider, MORE Electric and Power Corp. or MORE Power; plus the much publicized and well circulated almost controversial statement of “I Am Iloilo City” representative, Julienne Baronda.
And no. We never talked about the latest fiasco of Gilas Pilipinas at the 2019 FIBA World Cup that came home with an unblemished no-win record.
Come to think of it, PECO has an unblemished 0-2 failure to get a franchise record so yes, the parallel is there.
Then this question came up:
I’m sure you’ve read “I Am Iloilo City” representative Julienne Baronda’s statement regarding PECO’s second application for a franchise; would you say that you were intimidated and squirming in your Marks and Spencer drawers or you find it melodramatic and rather amusing?
And Marcelo Ugarte Cacho PECO’s Administrative Manager replied:
“Melodramatic and amusing.”
Of course, it does not come as a surprise. It would be weird if he said he was squirming in his drawers, be it Marks and Spencer or Calvin Klein.
Excerpts from that almost controversial statement of “I Am Iloilo City” representative Julienne Baronda:
“If we grant PECO’s franchise application now, it is my humble belief that we will only create more issues, court more litigation, and produce more problems. We will never see the end of it. And that is against public interest. That is not for the benefit and welfare of the people of Iloilo City, which I represent.
“Let us, therefore, give MORE a chance to comply with its commitments made before this committee last year, when it then approved MORE’s franchise.”
These words form the gist or the essence of the whole statement of “I Am Iloilo City” representative Julienne Baronda. Of course, I agree with her.
Although there was really nothing special about that statement; she was just doing her job which is to represent the best interest of the natives of “I Am Iloilo City” and right now the clamor of the natives of “I Am Iloilo City” is to change the power provider.
At best, it was just a flash of brilliance but the timing is impeccable.
Almost a century of being the sole power provider of “I Am Iloilo City” is more than enough time, in fact it is a very long time, for PECO to get their acts together and improve customer service. It is only quite recently when they started making some sort of effort on this that consumers are saying is very little and very much too late.
Do you think PECO would go through the motions if there was no threat of them losing their franchise which they did?
I think not.
PECO Administrative Manager Marcelo Ugarte Cacho said in a Facebook comment something like this: I’ll stick to the facts and data, especially when statistically and with regulators your records are good.
That is what he believes and I have no doubt on his beliefs and he is entitled and protected by law on his beliefs. Now whether other people believe him or not is another story.
Perhaps he needs to do a lot of convincing on the natives of “I Am Iloilo City” that PECO is good for them. It does seem that after almost a century they don’t seem convinced. Who knows maybe another century more and they might be convinced.
And then there’s this little thing about the power rates in “I Am Iloilo City” which, according to a study by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Iloilo, the consumers in Iloilo City located in Region 6 – Western Visayas, in the Central Philippines, are charged with the most expensive electricity rates not only in the country but also in the whole world.
According to FDC-Iloilo, a household consumer in Iloilo City is charged by PECO a per kilowatt-hour rate of P12.95.
In Manila, the country’s business and government center, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), a sister company of PECO, charges its consumers P10/kWh and developed countries i.e. United States only charges P3.82/kWh, United Kingdom P4.72/kWh, Russia P0.22/kWh, and Japan P9.63.
Really, I don’t care who the power provider is as long as the rates are reasonable, there are no frequent power failures and there is relatively good customer service. ([email protected]/PN)