By Lenie Lectura – October 12, 2018
from Business Mirror
RAZON-LED More Minerals Corp. (MMC) is set to provide electricity in Iloilo following the grant of its legislative franchise to operate electricity distribution service.
The House of Representatives voted on third and final reading on a bill granting the franchise to MMC early this week.
Panay, Iloilo, is currently being served by Panay Electric Co. (Peco). Its congressional franchise will expire on January 18, 2019.
Iloilo City residents, however, are complaining about Peco’s poor service and inefficiency.
Rep. Francis Josef Alvarez, chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, said the committee members could not reconcile Peco’s ability to declare dividends amid mounting complaints from its customers.
“The committee, after a careful deliberation, decided that we cannot tolerate continued abuse of the congressional franchise as shown by Peco’s failure to protect the interest of consumers. We based our conclusion on the recommendation of the Iloilo City Council resolution seeking the denial of Peco’s franchise renewal and the tons of complaints that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has received from Iloilo residents on over-billing and inefficient service,” Alvarez said.
Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim, one of the Iloilo City officials leading the opposition to the renewal of Peco’s franchise, cited the ability of the utility firm to declare dividends while ignoring the complaints of its customer base.
“While we do not mind the ability of the company to make profits, it should have given priority to addressing the complaints of its customers as it makes money and profits from the payment of city residents,” Alim said.
He cited the recent case of a 1,000-percent increase in the monthly bill of many Peco customers that the ERC found to have resulted from a faulty metering and billing system.
Based on company declarations with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Peco paid the Lopez-owned First Philippine Holdings Corp. ,which owns 30 percent of Peco, P51 million in dividends in 2017, up from P43 million in 2016 and P41 million in 2015.
The Cacho family owns 70 percent of the company.
Earlier, APX Mining Co. Inc. clarified that its wholly owned subsidiary, Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc. (Monte Oro), is not acquiring Peco.
Rather, it said, “a subsidiary of Monte Oro, formerly known as MORE Minerals Corp., has amended its primary purpose to a distribution utility and increased its capital stock to P1 billion and has changed its name to MORE Electric and Power Corp.,” APX said.