By: Alex P. Vidal
“No matter how many people you know, it will always be yourself against the world.” – Victoria Dawn Monks
AT the rate the Panay Electric Company (PECO) is being bamboozled by its adversaries from pillar to post these past weeks, we won’t be surprised if even the lizards and mosquitoes will soon mount a rebellion against the controversial power firm in Iloilo City and claim victory.
PECO appears to be the veritable punching bag of the season.
Punches and kicks rain from all directions and the hitherto featherweight champion PECO has been reduced to a minimum-weight contender from the volume of those blows.
Of course, we’re just kidding; but, once upon a time, PECO was on top of the universe; no one would dare point a dirty finger at PECO’s eyes without suffering the consequences.
This was when PECO was still lording over the power distribution system for thousands of Ilonggo electric consumers in the metropolis uncontested and buttressed by an official franchise.
Even gutsy politicians who dared to cross PECO’s paths found their way in the tail end of every election.
Already black-eyed in its puzzling skirmish with rival MORE Electric and Power Corp., PECO recently got a wallop on the chin from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which denied arranging a press conference together with PECO in relation to the 709 pole fires that hit the city in the past two years.
“The ERC has no participation, in any manner, in the said press conference (conducted by PECO on Nov. 4),” boomed ERC chair Agnes Devanadera.
Hardly had the PECO recovered from the flash knockdown inflicted by ERC, the PLDT, through its Visayas vice president Rene Lescano, delivered another headbutt this time calling PECO’s head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho a “liar” for blaming some pole fires to telco wires.
Others that saw their kick marks landing on PECO’s face were the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), which reportedly recorded 138 pole fires attributed to PECO and, most recently, no less than Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas himself.
Take this excerpt from the November 16, 2019 column of Daily Guardian columnist Limuel Celebria: “Late last month, one of our columns (Daily Guardian, October 26, Power Theft: a Growing Menace) raised concern over the numerous incidents of electric poles bursting into flames, threatening to set off conflagrations in the neighborhood. We attributed these cases of “spontaneous combustion” (to use a colorful phrase) to the apparently unabated power theft going on in many parts of the city. The power theft or pilferage causes undue overload on electrical wires which melt and cause short-circuits or transformers to conk out or burst into flame.
“A couple of days following our column, City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas fired off an angry letter asking the Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate Peco over the same ‘pole fires.’ This time, however, the city chief executive placed the blamed squarely on the shoulders of Peco. The mayor’s heated communiqué, which was also sent to Malacañang, lashed at Peco for its dilapidated equipment and the poor maintenance of its distribution system.”
We are amazed how PECO has managed to overcome the whirlwind of karate chops and thunderstorms that regularly bulldoze their gates in this dizzying screen episode called “PECO versus the World.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)