It’s a ‘highhanded’ takeover

It’s a ‘highhanded’ takeover

- in Opinion
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Filipino tycoon Enrique Razon, who is into port and casino operations and known for his semi-reclusive character, has recently issued a statement demolishing Panay Electric Company (PECO), the same firm he wants to takeover, by pointing out numerous deficiencies.

Obviously, the supposed statement, by scrutinizing it, did not personally come from him; it emanated from his drumbeaters who want PECO to be maliciously impugned and his company, MORE Electric and Power Corp., praised to high heavens.

There are also glaring discrepancies that make the statement bogus (as it was conveyed to the press). First, it was not written an official stationery and has no signature authenticating the document really came from the magnate’s office or from any official source in order to trace provenance. Moreover, the details, especially the figures, presented in the statement are way off the mark. Worse, the letter, if it was one, has been hastily researched.

PECO, however, did not allow the insult to just pass. It also issued its own rebuttal, point by point disputing the obviously distorted claims of someone who hurriedly prepared it as a matter of black propaganda and to create confusion.

In Razon’s statement, PECO was imputed by the claim that four generations of Ilonggo suffered from its inferior service. But this directly contradicts the established fact that PECO was awarded by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) the recognition as 100% fully compliant and was one of only four distribution utilities in the country to be given that credit.

On the issue of complaints, Razon and his mud diggers hit dung instead of facts. Official records show that PECO has only 194 with the ERC and only twenty-five are pending. In a sea of about 64,000 consumers, that figure is negligible. On the other hand, the bloated claim peddled by the tycoon’s camp is an atrocious 1,800!

In terms of retail rates, PECO’s rival claimed that the Panay firm “has one of the highest generation charges in the country and is P2.50/kwh higher than in Manila, Cebu and Davao.”

Comparatively, based on 2017 ERC records (retail rates without value added tax per kwh), Siquijor Electric Coop., Inc. charges P14.0763, the most expensive in Visayas. PECO charges only P8.2079. There are nineteen other utilities in the region with higher rates than PECO. Visayan Electric Co. of Cebu charges Php 8.1387, which is close to PECO’s rate. Now, the lies continue.

Razon’s propagandists claim that PECO “has extremely poor reliability indices, with a SAIFI (System Average Interruption Frequency Index) of 31.15, or 1,400% higher than the Philippine average of 2.18 and a SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) of 1,612 or 3,000% above the national average of 54.

Data from the ERC’s Distribution Management Committee show that the country’s average for SAIDI is 5,135.43 minutes and SAIFI at 40.31 incidents. PECO, on record, has a total SAIDI of 1,552.86 minutes and a SAIFI of 31.71, well below the national averages. In systems loss for 2017, PECO was pegged at 8.37%, below the ERC cap of 8.5%.

This vicious cycle of throwing muck and distorting issues against PECO is a highhanded scheme designed to take over an iconic institution; it is a sequel to the successful legislative railroad that led Senate to “approve in principle” MORE’s franchise.

As decades-long top taxpayer of Iloilo City, PECO deserves better treatment than being fed to parties whose interests are more pronounced in the way they deal their cards than in the manner they appreciate facts and figures.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his November 10, 2018 speech in Palawan, recognized the issue involving PECO and questioned whether the takeover is justified or just an attempt to steal the business. Such stern statement should absolutely be considered by MORE.

PECO was straightforward in saying it “has never regarded the franchise as a birthright,” adding that despite submitting all the documents and reports requested by Congress, the hearings for MORE’s preplanned takeover of PECO’s assets were kept under wraps and the approval of the new player’s franchise application completed in just two months!

Better still, MORE should be conscientious and forthright in its future statements by admitting that PECO, having existed for close to a century, is the owner of 20,000 poles and 1,300 transformers installed in over 450 kilometers of electric lines, the same structures they want to take over with the blessing of some powerful legislative overlords.




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