ILOILO City – The city government will be holding a public auction for P90-million worth of assets of Panay Electric Co. (PECO) on Dec. 12. According to Mayor Jerry Treñas, this is the city government’s legal step against the power distributor for refusing to pay long overdue real property taxes.
The unpaid real property taxes go back to two past city administrations, said Treñas. Multiple demands for payment were made but these went unheeded.
These resulted to the nonrenewal of PECO’s permit this year, said Treñas.
Norman Tabud, head of the Business Permits and Licensing Office, confirmed his office has yet to issue PECO a business license to operate for 2019.
“PECO applied for a business license but we deferred the issuance pending the recommendation from the City Treasurer’s Office,” said Tabud.
According to Treñas, he also got enraged by the statement of Marcelo Cacho, administrative manager of PECO who shrugged off incidents of post fires throughout the city.
The safety and security of the people of Iloilo City and the damage to government property are not small matters, he stressed in an interview over DyFM Bombo Radyo Iloilo.
PECO is under investigation by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) following Treñas’ complaint over rising incidents of electricity pole files due to ageing and overloaded transformers.
Under ERC Resolution No. 5, Series of 2008, any power distribution utility granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to operate a distribution system in any area must comply with standards set under the Philippine Distribution Code, especially those that concern public safety.
PECO is operating in the city only by virtue of a CPCN. Its franchise expired on Jan. 19, 2019 yet.
The ERC asked the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to provide a report on incidents of safety violation because of PECO’s electricity pole fires.
Aside from the ERC, Treñas also asked the Presidential Complaint Center to conduct an investigation.
The Iloilo City Fire Marshal and BFP reported that in three days alone from Oct. 19 to 21, seven PECO electricity poles caught fire either due to exploding transformers or severed transmission lines.
An average of 28 pole fires take place in Iloilo City every month, or almost 300 incidents every year, according to the BFP.
“Only electricity wires, either damaged or overloaded, can cause fire, not telephone or cable television wires,” BFP told ERC during a recent hearing.
Currently, a group from the ERC is inspecting dilapidated distribution lines of PECO and verify Treñas’ complaint./PN