Poll execs in Pantabangan want power restored
CABANATUAN CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and other government offices are exerting their best effort to have power restored, at least for Election Day, in nine of 14 villages of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, the town’s election official said on Sunday.
Rose Arbeth de Guzman, municipal election officer, would not elaborate on the steps being undertaken by the poll body and other government agencies but she expressed hope these would yield a positive result, as electricity is a vital component in automated elections.
“We’re working to have the power connection restored; most probably we will have power supply before the elections,” De Guzman said.
Should these efforts fail, she said, portable power generators sent by the Comelec national office would be used here.
The Comelec’s property division sent last week nine generator sets to its Pantabangan office, records showed.
Power in nine villages in the town has yet to be restored when the power supplier, First Gen Hydro Power Corp. (FGHPC), cut off electricity on March 7 due to debts of the local government-owned Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (Pames).
There are 30 clustered precincts in the town, some of them located in the villages affected by the power cutoff.
Despite the power problem, the Comelec was able to test the precinct count optical scan machines in the town on Monday.
“We had the mock elections. Some of the machines did not work well at once. But the technicians resolved the problem and the sealing went on and [the machines] are now ready for the May 13 elections,” Bienvenido Reyes, a civic leader and candidate for vice mayor, told the Inquirer by telephone.
Reyes said Comelec personnel used generator sets in the polling centers where the clustered precincts are located.
Dennis Gonzales, FGHPC vice president for business operations, said the Comelec and the Department of Energy sent the firm a request for the reconnection of the power supply in Pantabangan this week up until a few days after the elections.
“It will be reconnected. We will announce it when it will be restored this week and for how many days,” Gonzales said.
He, however, said Pames has yet to pay its current bills. Pames owes FGHPC more than P8.7 million, covering consumption from July to December 2012.
FGHPC first cut power supply in July 2012 due to unpaid power bills amounting to P53 million. The March 7 power cutoff in Pantabangan town was its third and longest power disconnection yet due to unpaid debts.—Armand Galang and Anselmo Roque