PECO backtracks on sabotage yarn, says it’s just speculation

PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

Panay Electric Co. clarified that it never accused any entity, including rival firm MORE Power and Electric Co (MEPC), of committing sabotage and spreading black propaganda relative to the power outages that hit Panay Island last week.

PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho issued the clarification in an interview with Bombo Radyo-Iloilo anchorman Don Dolido on Thursday, days after Panay Energy Development Corp (PEDC), National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and Palm Concepcion Power Corp (PCPC) issued statements on what happened to their facilities during the twin blackouts.

On Nov 5, PECO issued a press statement claiming that “the two-day power outage that hit Iloilo City on October 29 and 30 was highly irregular, citing power industry insiders.”

The PECO statement said that “the widespread power outage also occurred when power distributorship in Iloilo is being contested in the courts by PECO and newcomer MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MEPC).”

The press statement also quoted Cacho as saying, “The coal plant shutdown and the almost-simultaneous pole fires in different areas of Iloilo make me wonder if there’s something happening behind the scenes, or is this sabotage by those who want to ease us out of Iloilo to force our hand to give up?”

PECO also noted that Roel Castro, MEPC president and CEO, was a former president of PCPC, operator of the coal-fired power plant which shut down for more than 3 days after the blackouts.

But in the Bombo Radyo interview, Cacho denied accusing other power companies of conniving to sabotage PECO.

Cacho said they were just speculating on the reasons of the outages in the light of their dispute with MEPC.

“We can only speculate. As of now, speculation lang na ang sa amon. Wala man kami naga-accuse to anybody”.

On his part, MORE Power President Roel Castro expressed disappoint on the latest episode.

“Just prove factually and objectively there was sabotage. Prove before making any statement. Given the sad state of their system plus a master electrician running the operations, there is no need for sabotage for the extended blackout to happen,” Castro added.



Global Business Power Corp, owner of PEDC, explained that the Oct 29 outage was caused by technical problems in one of its coal-fired power plant.

PEDC Units 2 and 3 went back online at around 10 p.m. of Oct. 29, but Unit 3 later tripped off due to boiler problems.

NGCP explained that the Oct 30 blackout was caused by problems in the Negros-Panay submarine cable.

For its part, PCPC, the owner of the CFBC power plant in Concepcion, Iloilo, clarified that their plant was hit by an unplanned outage caused by an external grid event.

“The drop in grid voltage caused by the trip of the power plant in Iloilo City resulted in an automatic trip of our plant.  This is a protective system meant to prevent major damage to our facility,” PCPC Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Head Engineer Alvin Quintanar said in a statement.

Quintanar further explained that they tried restoring plant operations but the unstable grid voltage caused delays in restarting the plant’s auxiliaries, ultimately affecting the start-up process.

The tripping also caused critical issues in the boiler and turbine of the Concepcion plant, which resumed operations after three and a half days.

“Nobody wants this untoward incident to happen, since the negative impact caused by the power outage affected not only our power consumers but also us in PCPC. And we want to assure all our customers that we will continue to work tirelessly to deliver our commitment of a stable power supply,” Quintanar said.