ILOILO CITY will auction off the assets of Panay Electric Co., Inc. (PECO) next month to pay for the distribution utility’s unpaid real estate tax liability and penalties amounting to P106 million since 2006, the city’s mayor said.

In a statement, Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said the auction will resolve the local government’s collection problems with PECO, which date back to the terms of three mayors.

His office said PECO has refused to pay the real estate tax assessed by the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) on land where its electricity posts stand. Such land along the streets of Iloilo City will be auctioned on Dec. 12.

A representative of PECO did not immediately reply when asked for comment.

The CTO set a floor price of P106,881,685.33 for the auction. The mayor’s office cited CTO Tax Enforcement Division Chief John Ladrillo as placing the total market value of the posts at P214.9 million.

Mr. Ladrillo said the P106.8-million floor price was computed based on PECO’s total tax liability since 2006 amounting to P97,164,438.81, the cost of the sale including documentary stamp tax estimated at P9,716,443.88 and a registration fee of P802.64.

The auction is open to the public, he said.

In the same statement, Mr. Treñas said PECO has allegedly failed “to solve the problem of hundreds of incidents of the company’s aged and dilapidated electricity poles catching fire and causing fire on nearby residences and business and causing threat to the safety of Ilonggos for years.” — Victor V. Saulon