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Ilonggos doomed as power, tax rates surge


By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper

Iloilo City consumers may yet end up paying more than P3 per kilowatt-hour after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved the supply contract between supplier Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) and distributor Panay Electric Company (PECO). That’s on top of the approved P0.30 per kilowatt-hour that ERC already granted to PECO application for addition in its distribution charg.

By year-end, should ERC grant the bid of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to acquire the transmission line from PEDC, consumers would be paying P1 more on top of the P3 already granted to PECO.

Two years ago, we were regaled that the coal-fired power would “solve” the shortage and costly electricity. We have been duped as we found ourselves today outraged by unannounced and unexplained outages that occur at least once daily.

Atty. Tuki Altura, PECO legal counsel, says it opposes the NGCP-PEDC deal because it stretches the imagination how consumers could be liable for “transmission” cost to be charged by NGCP when PEDC erected its plant and transmission line right within the city precisely to spare consumers of the transmission charge.

Altura questions the ERC’s jurisdiction. “NGCP de facto exercises its power of expropriation as in the case of PEDC’s transmission line,” he explains. “In that case, the proper forum is the regional trial court (RTC), not the ERC. “

Power rates remain high for one reason: capitalist invest not to serve public interest but rake super profits. Once NGCP charges “transmission cost” power rate in Iloilo City would hit past P15 per kilowatt-hour.

That would be unpalatable to Ilonggos who face a double whammy as the administration of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog splurges additional P260 million to the overpriced city hall building.

Iloilo contractors and engineers, and groups like the United Architects Association of the Philippines are one in asserting that P360 million that the city already expended would have sufficed to complete the seven-storey city hall. The city still has P90 million at its disposal to buy additional fixtures.

Mabilog, however, ignored public criticisms and pushed ahead in contracting P260 additional loan to complete the building through “negotiated contract” in utter disregard of RA 9184 or the National Procurement Reform Act that calls for public biddings in all government contracts as a general rule.

Iloilo Press Club (IPC) president Rommel Ynion sued Mabilog before the Office of the Ombudsman praying for investigation and, if warranted, ordering Mabilog to desist from wasting government resources on the overpriced city hall project. The Ombudsman is still in deep and sweet slumber.

Iloilo City under the watch of Mayor, now Rep., Jerry Trenas (2001-2010) borrowed P450 million for the city hall building. Before that, it incurred a P130-million loan to erect 415 units of low coast houses for its employees.

The housing project, at Pavia town, Iloilo, was a bungle to haunt Trenas the rest of his life. Not one unit was completed. The contractor, ACE Builders, had only P1 million paid-up capital but it still cornered the contract. Trenas paid it up to P90 million despite its slippage, and worse, despite its abandonment of the project. Trenas did nothing to compel the contractor to restitute taxpayers. When the new Mabilog administration notified it of its intent to rescind the contract, ACE builders absconded and could no longer be found in Metro Manila.

Iloilo taxpayers bleed P17,000 daily to repay the interest alone of the Pavia Housing loan.
Add to that the burden of defraying the cost of P450 million original loan and P260 million supplemental loan to finish the city hall. That translates to more P50,000 daily for interest payment alone (the housing scam included).

It’s not difficult to smell rats here. Mabilog’s announcement of hiking real property tax 100 percent merely rubs salt to our festering wound.

Mabilog ignored our clamor for transparency and public consultation when he shifted plans midstream for the unfinished city hall. He scrapped the parking area in the architectural design and sought to bleed us more by proposing to buy the adjoining lot for another P35 million.

He still wants to condemn us to collective amnesia by selling the 6-hectare site of the housing scam in Pavia to put a “closure” to it, forgetting that heads should fall and culprits thrown to jail for the brazen thievery.

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