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The City Council on Monday proposed that the city government mandate the General Services Office (GSO) to ensure timely payment of its electric bills.

The resolution approved Monday came after the old and new markets experienced four days without electricity beginning February 3, after Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) disconnected its power supply because of unpaid bills amounting to more than P1.2-million since 2019 to 2021.

Market vendors and buyers experienced inconvenience from the four-day power outage which was eventually restored after the city government vowed to settle the unpaid bills.

Councilor Elgin Damasco who chairs the public market and slaughterhouse committee said during a recent committee meeting with the market supervisor, City Budget Office, and GSO, that he found out that there was no particular office was solely responsible for processing the electric bills of the Ood and new public markets.

“The records revealed that there is no specific or permanent recipient of monthly electric bills. Sometimes, all city government electric bills were sent by PALECO to the GSO. And only those bills that were sent to the office of the market superintendent were paid. So may pinapadala daw sa GSO, meron ding pinapadala sa office of the market superintendent. ‘Yong napapadala sa GSO, hindi naasikaso,” Damasco said during the council’s regular session.

Damasco added that according to market superintendent Joseph Vincent Carpio, the blackout took management and the vendors by surprise due to alleged negligence by a market staff named Nenita Umali.

“The problem arose when Ms. Umali, according to Mr. Carpio, failed to forward the letter of disconnection to the office of the market superintendent. As a consequence, PALECO disconnected their line. Mr. Carpio manifested that had his staff been prudent to inform him of the notice, the disconnection would not have happened,” Damasco said.

He added that Carpio has since requested for Umali’s dismissal from service through a letter to city mayor Lucilo Bayron, through the city administrator.

The councilors then approved a resolution requesting that both public market management and the GSO should receive their PALECO bills. Another approved resolution also urged the GSO to process the unpaid P1.2-million dues.

PALECO also reportedly stated that they will be more diligent in leaving official documents with the management of the Old and New Public Markets.