FDC file theft suit vs. PECO owner over P3.1-million pilfered electricity
Iloilo City – The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC-Iloilo) today through its legal counsel Romeo P. Gerochi filed another suit now for theft against Luis Miguel Cacho, the president and chief executive officer of Panay Electric Company, Inc. (PECO).
The case stemmed from the order issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission dated 9 June 2006 and its subsequent modified order issued November 16, 2009 directing PECO to refund consumers P631-million for overcharges it illegally collected in the span of nine (9) years or from February 1996 to July 2005 .
In the said P631-million refund order, P3.12 million covers pilferage over-recovery which could have been returned right away by PECO to its consumers as mandated by Section 12 of Republic Act 7832 of 1994 or the Anti-Pilferage Law .
It was found out by ERC that PECO did not comply with the requirements governing pilfered electricity as mandated by RA 7832. As a result, it ordered the said power distribution utility to return the amount to consumers of Iloilo City.
Ted Aldwin Ong, chairperson of FDC-Iloilo, said it shows how PECO utilizes every trick to rake profits. If it was not found out, PECO could have conveniently walked away with p3.1-million of consumers’ money which it already did.”
“What PECO carried out to earn profits: it converted into kilowatt-hour sales the amount covering pilfered electricity it over-recovered and instead of deducting or crediting the cost to its consumers, PECO reflected the amount as income in its books,” underscored by Ong.
Ong also stressed that “for us, this illegal practice is now fully admitted by PECO for they have commenced the implementation of the refund to consumers. As such, we are honored to file a case against the president and CEO of the company.”
In its modified order dated 19 November 2009 signed by ERC chairperson Zenaida G. Cruz-Ducut, the regulatory body emphasized that “the Commission maintains its position that pilferage recoveries should be deducted from the power cost of PECO and returned to consumers by reflecting the amount in its monthly bills.”
According to FDC’s legal counsel Romeo P. Gerochi, this not only a violation of RA 7832 but constitutes theft under the revised penal code and with a penalty of not less than 12-years imprisonment.
Gerochi added that “these kinds of malpractice must not be maintained by power utilities. With this suit, we are sending clear warnings to the owners of power utilities that they better straighten up the malpractices that they are accustomed of doing against the consumers for it is against the law.”
In May 28 this year, FDC likewise filed criminal complaint against the officers and board of directors of PECO before the City Prosecutors Office of Iloilo City for violation of Republic Act 9136 or the EPIRA. The case is ongoing and decision remains pending in the prosecutors’ office. -30-