Unnecessary vulnerability

The power distribution tug-of-war between Monte Oro Resources and Energy (MORE) and Panay Electric Company (PECO)
The power distribution tug-of-war between Monte Oro Resources and Energy (MORE) and Panay Electric Company (PECO)

The power distribution tug-of-war between Monte Oro Resources and Energy (MORE) and Panay Electric Company (PECO) has brought Iloilo City into the forefront of corporate and PR battles with each entity unwilling to give up and instead has resorted to never-before seen tactics and maneuverings up in the face of Ilonggos.

Recently, Monte Oro of ports magnate Enrique Razon has earned the nod of the Senate after its franchise application was passed on the third and final reading bringing the level of the fight to the ministerial bi-cameral conference committee. It will be a matter of time and the franchise to distribute electricity of the mining firm of Razon will be brought to the Office of the President for signature. By then, Razon’s connection will be tested.

There are speculations roaming around that President Rodrigo Duterte may veto it if his statement in his recent visit in Palawan is made the basis. The president declared that if the power distributor in Iloilo has delivered electricity to the booming business in the city then he sees no point in changing it or allowing a new entity to take-over as it is equivalent to pang-aagaw.

The statement of the president regardless of the context, costumarily, is a policy. Razon may have acted stealthily at the House of Representatives and the Senate given his political clout as party chair of the National Unity Party (NUP) while taking advantage of the funding vulnerability of the lawmakers especially that the 2022 presidential elections is already in sight but today, the Philippines has a very unconventional leader who is not even hesitant to cross Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-LABAN) the political organization which carried his ascendancy to the presidency.

In a recent gathering where the president and Razon were seen together, Duterte did not mince any doubts and brought up spicy words against gambling and casino operators during his speech.

PECO for its part is not about to give up the fight. It refused to to be slaughtered easily by the powerful Razon whose primary arm is a national PR group who is good in spreading lies and fake news and a bunch of hungry senators and congressmen.

Razon said PECO charges the most expensive power rate in the country at P12.09/kWh he was lying. He quoted a Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) report back in 2010. According to the 2017 data released by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the most expensive power rate in the country is of Siquijor Electric Cooperative, Inc. at P14.0763/kWh.

PECO charges P8.2079/kWh with a slight variance compared to the power rate of Visayan Electric Co. (VECO) of Cebu which charges P8.1387/kWh. In Visayas alone according to ERC, there are 19 more power distributor utilities with higher electricity rates compared to PECO.

Razon said that the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) of PECO is too long and therefore very inefficient in its delivery of electricity. The miner explained that the national average is 54 minutes per year. The statement of Razon, which by the way was his first official statement, is a classic example of an auto-mechanic explaining how surgery is done to a surgeon. Where did Razon get his data?

ERC has pegged the average duration of allowable interruptions nationwide to 5,135.42 minutes. PECO’s SAIDI is 1,612 minutes way below the national average.

As if talking like a pro, the gambler and miner in Razon being the owner of both Solaire Resort and Casino (the church and the religious must start acting now or it would be too late to realize that Razon has already brought his gambling investments to Iloilo City) and Monte Oro Resources and Energy added in his statement that the national System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) is 2.18 per year. Wrong and Fake.

Official ERC record shows that the SAIFI national average is 40.3. PECO’s SAIFI is 31.15. It means that PECO has fewer brownouts compared to the national average.

How Enrique Razon got his impossible figures could be traced to mere ignorance or simply plain dishonesty which probably is the reason why Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City denied his offer to rehabilitate the Sasa Wharf in her turf.

The lies of Razon has gone down to the level of his men. In the appearance of MORE at the Iloilo City Council last November 26, 2018 President and CEO Roel Castro boasted of having Amador Guevarra the former General Manager of Pampanga Electric Cooperative, Inc II. (PELCO II) in his team. Guevarra according to Castro operated with a systems loss of 5% performing way better than MERALCO. A cross-check with www.kuryente.org.ph would reveal another false statement as the systems loss of PELCO 2 under Guevarra was 12 % while PECO has only 7%.

In terms of reliability ranking, PELCO II is ranked 56 while PECO is ranked 21. Unfortunate for Iloilo City, if MORE will get to serve the power distribution utility, its general populace and booming economy will be under the mercy of an underperformer.

In short, more than the luxurious buy-out MORE did to have its franchise application approved in both houses, MORE and Razon have nothing but pure lies to prove their worth.

The battle is far from over yet by simply looking into the numbers. The political nature of the process in acquiring and renewing a utility franchise may have swayed on the side of MORE but the real figures and circumstances are all in favor of PECO if the basis are the actual ERC data.

PECO for its part has declared that it is ready to bring their cause and case to the courts if necessary. One thing though, this tug-of-war between the two corporate entities is creating an unnecessary vulnerability to the economic stability of Iloilo City.

We can only hope for a just resolution in the earliest possible time. Without actually admitting, several investors are now holding their cards knowing that this problem could drag to years and the stability of power supply and distribution is compromised.