By Louine Hope U. Conserva
THE ILOILO City council wants the voice of stakeholders heard in the ongoing deliberations in the House of Representatives for the license of the city’s power supply distributor.
Councilor R. Leoni N. Gerochi, chair of the committee on transportation, energy and public utilities, said he will file a resolution On Oct. 2 calling on the city government to intervene in the hearings.
The resolution states that the city should push “for terms and conditions that should be included in the franchise to ensure that the welfare of the consumers are upheld and protected, and likewise to participate in all the processes related to the application and approval of the franchise.”
Mr. Gerochi said the House committee on legislative franchises has already approved the application of More Minerals Corp. (MMC) without hearing the sentiment of locals.
The existing distributor, Panay Electric Company, Inc. (PECO), has a pending application for the renewal of its license that is expiring in 2019.
“Supposedly we should have a representative in Congress to check, intervene and ensure that we are protected,” Mr. Gerochi said.
He added that the franchise committee may not be privy to the power situation in the city and will not suffer the impact of their decision.
Iloilo City Representative Jerry P. Treñas, who is not a member of the House committee, is inhibiting himself from all related deliberations because his law office under retainer by PECO.
“For me, there is a conflict of interest. So after the committee level, it will have to be approved in plenary. My position is still the same. I will have to inhibit,” Mr. Treñas said.
He added that he will give his “120%” support to whoever gets the franchise.
Mayor Jose S. Espinosa III also said he leaves it to Congress to decide on what firm should distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
“Whatever will be the decision, and then if all is in order, we will abide by the decision of the Congress,” Mr. Espinosa said.
PECO, which has been facing complaints for its service, has opposed MMC’s franchise application, pointing out in a statement that the company “has no experience in the business of power distribution.”
PECO also said that MMC has “no track record to show since they are a mining company as stated in their articles of incorporation.”
Earlier, the Private Electric Power Operators Association (PEPOA) also warned of a looming power crisis in Iloilo City if the franchise is given to a company that has no infrastructure for distribution.