THE ENERGY Regulatory Commission (ERC) ordered Visayan Electric Co. (VECO), a unit of the Aboitiz Power Corp., Inc., to investigate reports that its personnel are asking for money to reconnect power in areas hit by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai).

“We have directed VECO to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of the matter and submit the result to the Commission in writing within 15 days from receipt of our directive,” ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Agnes VST Devanadera said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ms. Devanadera said that the commission is alarmed over the reports it has received mostly through its social media account about delays in restoring electricity in Cebu being the result of customers who pay bribes receiving priority for reconnecting their power.

The commission also directed VECO to report action taken against those confirmed to have been involved and any other measures to prevent such schemes in the future.

“We enjoin VECO to use the necessary means to obtain thorough, comprehensive, and unbiased findings, including the use of witness testimony when available,” Ms. Devanadera added.

VECO has said it is investigating reports of linemen or contractors seeking money in exchange for priority in restoring power.

“We ask for cooperation from the public not to entertain or participate in these illegal activities. We urge everyone to report these incidents through our Visayan Electric hotline number 230-8326 or send us a direct message on our Facebook page,” VECO said in a statement to the Cebu media on Jan. 7.

It added that power restoration is free of charge and that it charges no priority fee. — Marielle C. Lucenio