Ecija town execs blame power firm but fail to win sympathyBy Anselmo Roque
Inquirer Central Luzon
CABANATUAN CITY—Pantabangan Vice Mayor Romeo Borja Jr. had set up camp outside the compound of First Gen Hydro Power Corp. (FGHPC) on Friday, along with 14 supporters and security guards, to protest the power firm’s decision to cut power to his town.
But Pantabangan’s sectoral leaders refused to back Borja’s protest action and would instead mass up in front of the Town Hall on Monday, to take his father, Mayor Romeo Borja Sr., to task for the town’s failure to settle more than P80 million in power bills that had been unpaid despite residents religiously paying their electric bills.
Because of the unpaid power bills since 2008, FGHPC, which operates the Pantabangan-Masiway hydroelectric complex, cut off starting last Monday the power supply to the town -owned Pantabangan Municipal Electric Service, which serves eight of the 14 barangays of Pantabangan and Alfonso Castañeda towns in Nueva Vizcaya.
Reports from Pantabangan said the younger Borja was prepared for a hunger strike at the power firm’s compound in the town.
Both the mayor and vice mayor did not take the Inquirer’s telephone calls on Friday and Saturday.
Bienvenido Reyes, leader of the protest group La Solidaridad, said he had confirmed reports that the vice mayor had encamped in front of the
FGHPC compound with 14 followers on Friday morning. But Borja later broke camp and left at night because of strong rains, the reports said.
“He was reported as saying that FGHPC is also to blame for the power cutoff in their town and in Alfonso Castañeda town,” Reyes said. But sympathy is not on their side, he said, because “we are in the dark physically and mentally about the situation obtaining in our town.”
Monday’s rally is designed to compel Pantabangan officials, “particularly our mayor, to explain the power cutoff and other financial problems of our town,” Reyes said.
He said the rally was planned by 12 sectoral representatives who met on Saturday. He said they will go around town today (Sunday) to invite more people to join them in massing in front of the municipal hall.
Among those joining Monday’s rally are retired Army and police officials, members of La Solidaridad and Pantabangan Municipal Employees Union, and civic and religious leaders.
“It is high time that they (Borjas) meet with us. They should give light to our problems in our town,” Reyes said.
He described the Monday mass action as “a dialogue,” but he said it could snowball into protest actions “if no satisfactory answer can be given to us as to when we will have our electric supply restored.”
The mass action will be joined by municipal government and sectoral representatives of Alfonso Castañeda, based on a commitment given by their mayor, Jerry Pasigian.