‘LOOK WHO’S LYING’: PECO strikes back at PLDT, points out telco’s lapses

Panay Electric Co. led by Marcelo Cacho, head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs, answered accusations by telco firm PLDT regarding pole fires in Iloilo City. (DG file)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

Panay Electric Company (PECO) responded to PLDT’s claims that the power distributor firm lied when it said that pole fires recorded in the city involved poles owned by telephone companies.

In a letter addressed to PLDT Vice President for Visayas and former PLDT-Iloilo Manager Rene Lescano, PECO said they never attributed the 571 pole related fires to PLDT.

“Never in our statements in the media nor in our report to the ERC did we state that the 571 pole fires were attributable to PLDT. We merely stated that of the reported 709 pole fires from 2017-2019, only 138 of these were PECO-related. With that logic in mind, the remainder of the pole fires must belong or related to a TelCo,” they said.

Recently, Lescano called Marcelo Cacho, head of PECO’s Public Engagement and Government Affairs, a “liar” for attributing the pole fire incidents to telco-owned wires.

According to Lescano, they only have 2,000 poles in Iloilo city and only 800 are made of wood, compared to the 30,000 poles owned by PECO.

In previous statements, PECO cited reports in 2017 to 2019 that only 138 of the 709 pole fires recorded by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Iloilo are PECO poles.

The remaining 571 fires involved poles owned by telcos.

But, Lescano clarified that the pole fires were caused by the electrical wires of PECO.

“Maybe Cacho, who is not an engineer, has no knowledge at all, or he is just using us as scapegoat. I really feel bad about it. It is just too bad that he is claiming such but never informs us every time we meet with other utility companies,” he said.

In PECO’s letter signed by Cacho and two other officials, they reiterated that one of the most common causes of pole fires is short circuits in telecommunication equipment attached to PECO poles.

“This occurs when a linkage is created between telco lines and/or messenger wires and PECO’s secondary, service lines and/or pole groundings. This can happen, especially, when telcos install pole clamps without insulators on PECO poles for their messenger wire, and this uninsulated clamp touches PECO’s pole grounding wire,” they said.

PECO also attached in their letter a sample voltage test of a telco messenger wire that came in contact with PECO’s secondary line. The firm also requested PLDT to install insulated pole clamps in all their facilities.

“In light of these results, we would like to immediately request that all PLDT facilities with attachments to PECO poles be installed with insulated pole clamps. We would like you to submit within 15 days a timeline in which you can install insulated pole clamps for all your attachments on PECO poles,” PECO said.

PECO also called the attention of the contractors of PLDT to avoid bundling their cables with PECO wires as it can cause fire.

The power distributor also mentioned the lapses of PLDT such as their wiring set-ups; lack of emergency line team to resolve issues like leaning or fallen poles; and PLDT facilities that are attached to the old poles of PECO.

“These areas have extremely low hanging wires that are mistaken to be PECO wires and are a danger to the community. We have surveyed these and they do not belong to us. We have experienced multiple instances wherein our line teams have had to correct leaning or fallen PLDT poles that are blocking roads and creating traffic. While we readily do these jobs in the interest of public safety and uninterrupted traffic flow, we hope you can provide teams to maintain and troubleshoot your own facilities,” PECO added.

PECO also invited PLDT to attend the next Iloilo Utilities Group meeting on Nov. 27 after almost two years of absence.

“We would like to invite you to attend the next Iloilo Utilities Group meeting this November 27 at 2:00 pm in PECO Annex H. You have not been to our meetings in almost 2 years; the other members of the other group may have concerns to relay to you in light of the challenges and opportunities posed by the many development projects in Iloilo City,” they noted.

To recall, Energy Regulatory Commission inspected the city recently after receiving the letter complaint of Mayor Jerry Treñas seeking for investigation of the series of fire incidents involving electric poles and wires of PECO.