Villagers hold protest for power-A A +A
Sunday, July 22, 2012
HUNDREDS of irate folk of Barangay San Vicente, Leganes, Iloilo banded over the weekend to call for intervention and action on their “powerless” plight as the locals were without electricity for five days in a row.
The once hailed partnership of the barangay with the town’s electric cooperative went awry and caused the fourth disconnection this year.
The problem, the locals discovered, was the non-remittance of payment causing months in arrears and surcharges said to have reached P700,000 range.
Engineer Samson Jaspe, the town’s Municipal Planning and Development Officer (MPDO), is among the affected residents who was present in Saturday’s “people power.”
“This is not fair to us. We are paying our bills religiously and now this happens again,” Jaspe said. “We have our receipts as proof that we are not remiss with our payments.”
Barangay San Vicente partners with Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco) 1 for its electricity needs. Subject of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), Ileco 1 and consumers here under the Barangay Power Association (Bapa) worked harmoniously since 1976. Years back, Barangay San Vicente was even recognized as an outstanding Bapa.
Yet today, San Vicente Bapa with over 200 member households, are subject of Ileco 1’s adverse action. One consequence that the locals is crying foul and blaming the barangay treasurer, Bapa’s designated Ileco 1 bill collector.
“We are appealing to Ileco 1 to help us resolve our problem now and to come up with a permanent solution. So far, we were told by (Ileco 1) General Manager Fred Billena that they will grant us power back if we come up with at least P50,000. And so we ask everybody present to give their share. This is just temporary solution to our problem. Once we get our power back, we are determined to have a long-term solution here. This cannot happen again. This is just not right and fair at all,” Jaspe said.
Electric bills of San Vicente household is P200 a month at the lowest and P9,000 maximum range. The Bapa-Ileco 1 partnership was pushed given the benefits that go back to the consumers themselves. At least five percent in monthly “patronage fund” is granted to Bapa under the MOA.
With the problems now though, locals want to get out of the MOA and pay directly to management to avoid repeat of power disconnection.
Other locals want the Office of the Ombudsman to step in and see if the barangay treasurer can be held liable for misconduct, a criminal and administrative offense.