Multi-sectoral consumer group to engage in power transition in Iloilo

Now that President Rodrigo Duterte has granted MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) the power distribution franchise in Iloilo City, a multi-sectoral consumer group has declared its readiness to engage the local power service transition.

As MORE Power and incumbent Panay Electric Co. (PECO) battled each other over the issuance of a 25-year franchise to operate power distribution service last year, a new consumer group dubbed “i-konsumidor” was taking shape as major sectoral networks closed ranks in preparation for a new level of engagement once the franchise is issued.

“It was clear from the start that More Power will earn the franchise. We have anticipated this development considering that franchises are subjected to decision-making of politicians in Congress,” said i-konsumidor chair Raymund Moderes in a statement.

On Feb 14, 2019, Pres. Duterte approved the franchise application of MORE Power by enacting Republic Act No. 11212.

The law granted the Enrique Razon-led MORE Power the authority and privileges to manage and control power distribution service in Iloilo City from 2019 to 2044.

The multi-sectoral group was organized by Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC-Iloilo), Partido ng Manggagawa, the nationwide labor alliance Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – SENTRO, and the think-tank Center for Power Issues and Initiatives.

The name i-konsumidor resonates among Ilonggos. “I” describes two meanings: “Ilonggo” and “Ikaw” or “you” the electricity consumer.

The formation of i-konsumidor is the result of the consolidated efforts of broad sectoral alliances in Iloilo from the informal labor sector, urban poor, women, and youth.

The groups include the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (ICLAJODA), United City of Iloilo Trisikad Operators and Drivers Association (UCITODA), and United Panay Truck Drivers Association (UPTDA), Women Net, and Youth Alliance for Sustainable Society (YASS).

The organizations that compose i-kunsumidor are among the most familiar in consumer issues and the power industry. Labor group PM and FDC were among the major groups that opposed the privatization of the National Power Corp. in 2000 through the Omnibus Power Bill.

The groups also opposed the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2004 on grounds that it will not benefit consumers or result in cheap power rates.

In Iloilo City, the groups were instrumental in leading a collaborative campaign against the abuses and overcharges of PECO with lawyer Romeo Gerochi. The campaign led to an unprecedented legal defeat for PECO in 2009 and the P631-million refund to consumers.

“Our move is informed by our experience in the battle against power privatization and monopoly. We have been preparing for this engagement in order to ensure that consumers are protected, this time not only from PECO, but also from MORE Power, and by new players who are using the name of the consumers to hide their business agenda,” said Ted Aldwin Ong, executive director of i-konsumidor.

The group through FDC-Iloilo has submitted a petition for intervention with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), bearing in mind consumers’ protection once the two firms lock horns in a legal battle, especially a possible expropriation case in court.

“We have requested the ERC to audit and account all refundable items of PECO to its consumers for we are pushing that all amounts due to consumers be returned by PECO now that the franchise has been given to More Power,” Ong emphasized.

In November 2018, the group submitted a letter of intent to intervene with the ERC once a franchise holder starts the process of securing the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN).

The group vowed to actively participate in all levels of the process in behalf of the power consumers of Iloilo City.

only on PECO, but also from MORE Power, and by new players who are using the name of the consumers to hide their business agenda,” said Ted Aldwin Ong, executive director of i-konsumidor.

 The group through FDC-Iloilo has submitted a petition for intervention at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) bearing in mind consumers’ protection once the two firms lock horns for a legal battle especially once an expropriation case is filed in court.

“We have requested the ERC to audit and account all refundable items of PECO to its consumers for we are pushing that all amounts due to consumers be returned by PECO now that the franchise has been given to MORE Power,” Ong emphasized. 

In November last year, the group submitted a letter of intent to intervene before the ERC once a franchise holder will start the process of securing the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) at the ERC.

The group vowed that it will actively participate in all levels of the process for the power consumers in Iloilo City.

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