‘Protect consumers amid MORE Power-PECO clash’

ILOILO City –A local consumer group said it is ready to weigh in on the legal battle between More Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) and Panay Electric Co. (PECO).

“Our move is informed by our experience in the battle against power privatization and monopoly,” said i-konsumidor executive director Ted Aldwin Ong.

The group was organized by Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido ng Manggagawa, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, and Center for Power Issues and Initiatives whose campaign efforts led to PECO’s legal defeat over excessive charges in 2009, resulting in a P631 million worth of refunds to consumers.

The multi-sectoral group has support from the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, United City of Iloilo Trisikad Operators and Drivers Association, United Panay Truck Drivers Association, Women Net, and Youth Alliance for Sustainable Society.

“We have been preparing for this engagement in order to ensure that consumers are protected – this time not only from PECO, but also from MORE Power and other new players,” Ong said.

He added that they filed a petition for intervention at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) amid More Power and PECO’s clash.

“We have requested the ERC to audit and account all refundable items of PECO to its consumers. We are pushing that all amounts due to consumers be returned by PECO now that the franchise has been given to More Power,” Ong said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11212 last Feb. 14, granting MORE Power the franchise to distribute electricity in the city for 25 years.

On March 6, PECO asked the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 209 to issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against More Power.

PECO was the sole power distributor in this city for the past 95 years. Its distribution franchise expired last Jan. 19.

It applied for renewal of franchise but its application – submitted in 2017 – remains stuck in the Lower House’s committee on legislative franchises./PN


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