Pantabangan power woes continue


CABANATUAN CITY—As Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, endured a town-wide power outage for the second day on Tuesday, residents tried to find ways to cope with the problem.

Senior Supt. Crisaldo Nieves, provincial police director, said his office sent a 1,000-kilowatt power generator to the Pantabangan police station.

Local policemen who joined the “unity walk,” a drive for safe and free elections, on Tuesday dawn took the opportunity to have their mobile phones charged in stores running on generator sets.

On Monday, First Gen Hydro Power Corp. (FGHPC), which owns and operates  Pantabangan-Masiway Hydroelectric Complex, cut off power to the local government-run Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (Pames) over its failure to pay power bills from July 2012 to December 2012, amounting to more than P8.7 million.

FGHPC returned a check worth P1.6 million that Pames issued because it was not sufficiently funded.

But Mayor Romeo Borja Sr. denied that the check had no funds. In text messages on Tuesday, Borja said he asked town treasurer Charito Ifurong to deposit funds from Kaltimex to the account of Pames.

Borja tapped Kaltimex last year to rehabilitate Pames through a 25-year contract that several councilors and civic leaders opposed because this did not undergo public consultation.

Dennis Gonzales, FGHPC vice president for business development, said negotiations on Tuesday with the provincial government, Borja and Department of Energy officials may result in “something positive” so power can be restored soon. Armand Galang, Anselmo Roque and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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