Let’s prepare for MORE

INTERCOURSE | Rhoderick Maquirang TecsonSooner Iloilo City will be experiencing a once in a lifetime relief from the unique power distribution problems its people have been complaining, which include the arrogance of Panay Electric Company (PECO) in dealing with its clients, overbilling and underbilling, and the utter lack of customer service.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises passed the franchise application of MORE Minerals, a mining firm, to operate the power distribution in the city, which was upheld and approved by the plenary and has been scheduled for hearing at the Senate. It was done so over the application for franchise renewal of PECO.

MORE Minerals snatched the nod of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo-led House despite having literally no experience in the power industry though it might help to state that those who front as incorporators are the officers and owners of Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) in Concepcion, Iloilo.

PCPC is a power generation company owned by Walter Brown and whose former president is a good friend and a dinner buddy who loves the native chicken adobo of Iloilo – Roel Castro. Both Brown and Castro are incorporators of MORE Minerals.

Interestingly, the Franchise Committee of Rep. Franz Alvarez, (Palawan, NUP) did not even bother to look at the possible conflict of interest and violation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) provision where power generators are not allowed to engage in power distribution.

MORE Minerals became MORE Power Iloilo in a span of 30 days in order to hide it’s inexperience over the power industry. The fact remains, they are a mining firm and never had any experience in power distribution. Its major owner is the ports magnate Enrique Razon whom according to raw informations circulating around Iloilo, is training his bully business attitude to the Layson Group’s port operations in the city.

As a matter of fact, Razon has written a letter to PECO categorically stating his interest to buy in part or take-over wholly the company but was denied which could have agitated him to mobilize his National Unity Party (NUP) in the Lower House and the Upper House to secure his franchise application.

The application for a legislative franchise to distribute power around any corner of the country is a democratic right while the franchise once granted is a privilege.

The problem, however, with the Razon-led MORE Minerals is fatal. While their application is within the legal bounds of the law, their timetable is more than suspicious. Their application was approved in less than 60 days. If and only if the Senate approves the House version of the franchise bill of MORE this month, it will form part of Congress’ history as the fastest power distribution franchise application approved.

This coming January 18, 2019 the franchise of PECO will expire. It is only fitting that MORE who holds the new franchise will have to take over.

The twist though, MORE doesn’t even have an office in the city nor they own a single electrical pole or has started negotiating for a lot where they will build their power station.

What will MORE do now? MORE has flaunted the idea of expropriating the property of PECO. What if the court will not grant their request?

Expropriation is a lengthy process especially if contested. PECO is not a 95-year old company for nothing. We cannot expect it to just sit down and wait for fate to crucify their business.

The idea of MORE is simply to come in as a bully and employ scare tactics and eventually own the company. MORE has no prior investments in Iloilo. Razon is never a part and has not taken any part in Iloilo City’s struggle to become what it is now, an economically lucrative city.

Razon is notorious in the buying and selling business of the companies he acquires. He did it when he bought the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and sold it to Henry Sy few months after the acquisition.

If the problem of the consumers is the poor customer care of PECO as the power interruptions are well within the minimum as reported by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), can the inexperienced MORE provide help?

Can MORE with its fake news capacity manage to deliver power to the doorsteps of Ilonggos when the most that they could do was present a chief operating officer who did not know his appointment?

Imagine the new power distributor of Iloilo City just picking a COO without the prior knowledge of the person involved.

ERC Chair Agnes Devanadera was forced to issue a clarificatory statement after MORE released fake news stories that said ERC castigated PECO for failing to refund the overcharges on generation cost.

How will these tactics and corporate attitude of the Razon group affect the rising economic potential of Iloilo City? True enough it will be a treat for the people of Iloilo. Let’s prepare for more.