Pantabangan power woe continues
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CABANATUAN CITY—Pantabangan town, which hosts one of the biggest dams in the country and the hydroelectric electric firm that supplies power to the Luzon power grid, has been suffering from a power outage since March 7 after its power supplier cut off the local distributor from its system due to mounting debts.
With the worsening power situation in his town, Mayor Romeo Borja Sr. said the local government would buy a fuel-fed generator set to restore electricity.
He said Pantabangan would no longer rely on First Gen Hydro Power Corp. (FGHPC), which supplies electricity to the local government-run Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (Pames).
“We will buy a big generator. We don’t like it anymore,” Borja, referring to the town’s reliance on FGHPC.
Power in the town was cut off on March 7 after Pames failed to settle its current bills. FGHPC earlier gave Pames five working days to pay its bill that amounted to P8,762,405.58 covering July to December 2012.
On Feb. 11, electric supply was cut off because of the unpaid bills but was restored two days later after negotiations.
In July last year, the town suffered a 10-day power disconnection due to Pames’ P52-million debt to FGHPC. Power was restored after a compromise agreement on the debt settlement was reached. Negotiations were arranged then by the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Gov. Aurelio Umali.
Borja’s son, Vice Mayor Romeo Borja Jr., said the town government paid P1.7 million and a P20,000 reconnection fee to FGHPC on Friday but power had yet to be restored.
The Borjas did not say how much the town would spend for the generator set and whether it would be used exclusively by government offices in the town.
“The truth is that our electric power bill debt is now being paid for by the P6.7-million real estate tax every quarter, which is supposed to be paid to our municipal government through the provincial government,” Borja Jr. said.
“More than P30 million had been paid to them, up to December last year, based on the compromise agreement we reached,” he said.
He said local officials were aware of the current bills and were doing their best to pay FGHPC.
Earlier, a leader of a civic group filed a graft complaint in the Ombudsman against Mayor Borja for the alleged mismanagement of Pames and alleged misuse of the town’s finances. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon
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