ERC orders power utility to probe extortion complaints | Inquirer News
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ERC orders power utility to probe extortion complaints

By: - Senior Reporter / @inquirervisayas
/ 12:08 PM January 27, 2022
Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)

FILE PHOTO Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) /INQUIRER.net

CEBU CITY––The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has directed the country’s second-largest electric utility to investigate complaints of extortion involving its contractors or volunteers in restoring power in Metro Cebu.

In a statement, ERC chair Agnes Devanadera said the commission has received many complaints against Visayan Electric that the delay in restoring electricity in Cebu was not due to the damaged distribution lines, but because of alleged rampant corruption of some people who prioritized the electricity restoration for those who offered money.

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ERC gave Visayan Electric 15 days from receipt of the directive to submit the result of its probe.

Its report should include actions taken against those involved if any, and the measures put in place to prevent extortion.

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Visayan Electric was also instructed to expedite the restoration of electricity in its franchise area and inform ERC and its consumers of the progress of its restoration.

Visayan Electric, however, gave the assurance that the allegations were taken seriously and investigated.

The power utility stressed, in a statement, that restoration by its accredited contractors and industry partners was free of charge.

“Our teams on the ground are working 24 hours a day to fast-track our power restoration efforts in Cebu,” it added.

The company urged the public not to entertain or participate in illegal activities and report extortion through its hotline number 230-8326 or send a direct message on its Facebook page.

Visayan Electric warned that the company would not be held liable for any damage or loss arising out of or in connection with the unauthorized re-energization arrangement entered into by customers.

“Rest assured that people who will be proven to have done such illegal actions will be penalized accordingly,” it said.

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Visayan Electric earlier announced it would fully restore power in Metro Cebu by January 31, 45 days after the strong winds spawned by typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) toppled electric posts.

Devanadera, however, described as “alarming” the number of incidents reported to the commission regarding the illegal activities that involved either their contractors or volunteers, who allegedly extorted money from Visayan Electric’s consumers to expedite the restoration of their electricity.

“These reports of alleged extortion are truly disturbing and we cannot just disregard or take these things sitting down,” she said.

“We enjoin Visayan Electric to use the necessary means to obtain a thorough, comprehensive, and unbiased finding/s, including the use of witnesses’ testimony when available,” she added.

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TAGS: Energy Regulatory Commission, ERC, extortion, Metro Cebu, power restoration, Regions
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