The city government has vowed to sue the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) for the frequent brownouts being experienced by city residents.
City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, meeting with city residents Monday, called for the filing of appropriate charges against the local power distributor’s top officials, such as its general manager and board chair and directors.
“Kailangang may managot dito,” Bayron said, addressing an emergency meeting he called with the city councilors, city and provincial officials, representatives of the business sector, and other private individuals.
Bayron said the public has already reached the “end of line” with the regular occurrence of daily brownouts throughout the city.
“Di na natin matiis ang reklamo ng taong bayan na nakakarating sa ating opisina. Talagang sobra na,” he said.
The move, he added, is a way of forcing Paleco to immediately address the problem of “frequent and unannounced power outages,” as it already affecting businesses and the maintenance of peace and order.
Bayron instructed the City Legal Office to work with the provincial government’s legal office in the filing civil and or administrative cases against Paleco officials.
Concerned citizens also said they will mount a signature campaign to demand the resignation of Paleco officials should they fail to end the power problem.
City Councilor Jonjie Rodriguez called for the filing of a petition before the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) for the non-issuance of a certificate of good standing that allows Paleco to enjoy tax exemption.
Rodriguez said the City Council could pass a resolution informing the CDA of Paleco’s inefficient performance.
“Parang lumalabas na napakaganda ang performance nila dito kaya sila binibigyan ng tax exemption when in fact hindi gano’n kagaling ang serbisyong binibigay nila sa atin,” he said.
Provincial Legal Counsel TJ Mata claimed Paleco is accountable for the breakdown of appliances and spike in electric bills being suffered by consumers because of frequent brownouts.
“There’s something wrong here. How come they cannot provide us transparency with what’s going on every time there’s an unannounced power outage?” Matta said.
Arjie Lim of Puerto Princesa Chamber of Commerce the brownouts have been causing business operations losses.
“We are spending so much just to run our own generators,” Lim, a hotel owner, said.
Provincial Information Officer, Atty. Gil Acosta Jr. warned the brownouts are also affecting the image of Palawan as a tourist destination.
In May, City Councilor Peter Maristela proposed the idea of filing a case against Paleco officials, citing a doctrine which grants inherent power and authority to the state to protect persons who are legally unable to act on their own behalf.
Maristela said the city government through the city legal officer can represent the people in court and can cite the irresponsibility among independent power producers (IPP) and the power distributor, particularly in failing to come up with remedial actions in light of mounting complaints by the public.
City Legal Officer Arnel Pedrosa said his office is willing to assist any private individual who wishes to file a case against Paleco officials.
Sought for reaction, Paleco board chair Jeffry Tan-Endriga declined to comment on the threat of a lawsuit by the City government.
“No comment. We will just wait for their complaint kung meron man. Hopefully wala naman sana,” Endriga said.