A screenshot of the Change.org petition by Culion residents.

Residents of Culion have petitioned the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to investigate the Busuanga Island Electric Cooperative (BISELCO), citing frequent blackouts in the town causing frustration and inconvenience to its member-consumers.

A Change.org petition was set up on Sunday to gather enough signatures and voice frustrations towards the electric cooperative.

“Napakalaking perwisyo na brownout sa pagtatrabaho, paghahanapbuhay at mga negosyo. Sumira na at nakakasira ng mga pinagsikapan at pinagpagurang mga gamit o appliances ng bawat pamilya. Tumataas pa ang bayarin sa kuryente dahil sa biglaang pagpatay at pagbabalik ng kuryente. Umaantala ng mga serbisyo ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno. Marami na ring sinira sa mahahalaga at mamahaling kagamitan sa Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital,” the description in the petition read.

According to one of the petitioners, BISELCO usually gave excuses such as geckos (tuko) causing the blackouts. However, they said the problem is becoming a major frustration to residents because of online learning and work-from-home needs being interrupted by blackouts.

“Mga nakaraang araw, twice to three times a day ang blackout. Nasisira ang mga appliances. Teacher ang misis ko, at online sila. Blackouts are causing a lot of inconvenience and loss of opportunities,” Glenn Libao, a former Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member and one of the petitioners, said in an interview on Monday.

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“Ang rason daw, tuko. Sabi ko, nauubos na ang mga tuko dito sa Culion kung araw-araw at twice a day [ang blackout],” he added.

BISELCO is the power cooperative that distributes electricity to Coron, Busuanga, Linapacan, and Culion, all island municipalities north of Palawan. Libao added that the petition only started on Sunday, so there are not many signatures yet in the online petition. There are also efforts to gather signatures manually by concerned member-consumers.

BISELCO responds

BISELCO manager Ruth Fortes said in an interview the same day that they are aware of the petition and are currently addressing the blackout problem. She explained that they are aware of the member-consumers’ frustrations, and are hoping that their transition to a new power provider, the Culna Renewable Energy Corporation, will solve some of their problems. Fortes explained that a public bidding has been concluded for their new provider and is awaiting approval from the ERC to partner with BISELCO.

“Isang solusyon dito ay ang pagpalit ng power provider. Sa bagong power provider namin, maganda ang communication sa amin at sila mismo ang nag-ooffer na magbigay ng tulong,” Fortes explained.

“Na-explain naman namin kung ano mga causes ng blackout. In-explain namin na hindi lang sa mga linya, kundi pati na rin sa aming power generation. Kahit sa ibang electric cooperative, hindi talaga maiwasan yung mga tuko, ibon, at ahas. Isa rin sa inaayos namin yung imbalanced loading. Mataas ang loading tuwing umaga, pero tuwing gabi mas konti na, kaya nagti-trip yung makina,” she added.

Fortes further said that they have applied a temporary solution to the imbalanced loading by upgrading some power lines, but they have been unable to complete the upgrade due to workplace reduction measures and COVID-19 restrictions.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.