By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
CLOSE to six months after MORE Electric and Power Co. (MORE Power) secured its congressional franchise through Republic Act No. 11212 to distribute power supply in Iloilo City, it has yet to put in place its assets and facilities, according to Panay Electric Company (PECO) Administrative Manager Marcelo Cacho.
Right after President Rodrigo Duterte signed its franchise into law last Feb 14, 2019, MORE Power guaranteed that it is prepared to take over the power distribution authority in Iloilo City from PECO.
MORE Power President and CEO Roel Castro vowed cheaper and better services to the consumers through reliability and capacity improvement, system loss reduction, safety improvement, and programs on operations and maintenance.
MORE Power also introduced to the media various programs that would target pressing needs of the consumers from billing (More Kolek), application process (More Konek), and replacement of all the defective and aging meters (More Korek).
In previous interviews, Castro said that they have started ground preparations for their operations.
“We want to hit ground. With the tremendous corrections that we have to do, I want to make sure that we hit the ground running on day one. As far as we are concerned, it is something calculated. If we don’t do anything and wait for the takeover, it might take six months or longer then I feel that is a bit unfair to the consumers having seen the state of the utility,” he said in previous interviews.
But until now, Cacho emphasized that MORE Power has not plunked in its assets and even mobile substations that they promised in previous committee hearings in Congress.
“It is already six months and we still don’t see any assets that can be verified through the Committee on Legislative Franchise in the Congress. If they cannot acquire the properties and facilities of PECO, they will set up their own assets and facilities which until this date and in previous hearing, we don’t see any assets,” Cacho said in an interview on Monday.
Citing the congressional committee hearing on Sept 5, 2018, Cacho said Castro vowed to build their own facilities.
“Mr. Castro admitted that presently, they do not have the facilities, but if their application would be approved they will build their own facilities. I think it boils down that they deceived the committee because their only plan since the start was the take-over of PECO’s business without the plan of setting up their own facilities. They are not ready, not capable, had no intention of setting up their own technical assets,” he emphasized.
MORE Power refused to answer Cacho’s statements.
Meanwhile, PECO is still hoping to renew its congressional franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City.
Cacho said that they already received a notice for the hearing of PECO’s franchise application in Congress on Sept 11, 2019.
“We were expecting more deliberations and slightly longer but of course because we would like to do it the proper way and we don’t want to skip on any legal requirements,” he noted.
PECO and MORE Power are currently locked in legal battle.
The expropriation case filed by MORE against PECO in an attempt to take over its assets was raffled to Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 35 in Iloilo City.
Before this, RTC Branch 37 granted MORE’s application for a writ of possession in relation to the expropriation case.
PECO rebutted MORE’s move through a Motion for Reconsideration, citing the decision of Mandaluyong RTC Branch 2019, which declared Sections 10 and 17 of RA No. 11212 void and unconstitutional.