Friday, November 25, 2005


Peco losing heavily to pilferers

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

LEGITIMATE consumers of Panay Electric Company (Peco) are the ones paying for electricity lost to power pilferers in Iloilo City.
In fact, the problem of power theft in the city is deeply rooted in more than 50 percent of barangays in the city which are infested with jumpers and other forms of illegal connections to Peco lines.
Engr. Carlos Borja, Peco assistant vice president for corporate communications, said the ideal systems loss for power distributors is 5 percent. On the average, Peco generates 30million kilowatt-per-hour of power every month.
But computations by Peco showed its actual system loss is pegged at 13 percent, a big chunk of which is brought about by power pilferages.
In order to recoup its losses, Peco is allowed by the Electric Power Reform Act (Epira) to charge to its consumers 9.5 percent of the actual systems loss while the rest will be shouldered by the power utility.
Borja said their actual losses could go up to 15 percent during summer season where power consumption is high.
Borja further said a big chunk of their systems loss is attributed to power pilferers in the city who illegally tap to Peco lines.
“Our actual consumers are the ones footing the tab for these power pilferers which is very unfair for them. If we can only reduce the number of households with illegal connection to our power lines, it will be a big relief to our customers,” Borja said.
Aside from the economic effect, illegal connections are also potential fire hazards, particularly “octopus connections” in heavily populated areas.
The past two years, Peco has been cracking down on power thefts but they continue to devise ways to get electricity illegally.
Last Tuesday evening, Peco personnel along with the National Bureau of Investigation and the City Engineer’s Office scoured several villages in Molo, Jaro and Iloilo City Proper districts for pilferers.
Topping the list of most households with illegal connections is Barangay Infante, Molo with 30; Barangay Hipodromo, Iloilo City Proper with 5 households; and Barangay Flores City Proper with 3 households.
At present, Peco has a subscriber base of 53,000 households.
Engineer Bienvenido Anatan, Peco vice president for engineering, said they are saturating all city barangays to apprehend more power thieves.
“We expect to meet the 9.5-percent systems loss next year if we sustain our campaign against power pilferers,” Anatan said.
Anatan said they are targeting the port area at the Iloilo City proper district where majority of households have illegal connections to Peco lines.
Meanwhile, Borja said power thieves are getting smarter as they try to circumvent authorities.
While most illegal connections are found in slum areas, there are also power thieves in posh subdivisions Iloilo City.
Borja said there is a syndicate operating in the city that approaches household owners who want to reduce their power bills.
Aside from the usual illegal connection to Peco power lines, members of this syndicate tamper with electricity meters of unscrupulous consumers so it will register a lower reading than the actual consumption.
And to avoid detection and the hassle of the usual illicit tapping to electric lines, other power thieves use alligator clips which they can easily detach during daytime.
Apart from crackdown on power thieves, Peco are installing its distribution lines at towering poles which are hard to reach.
Peco has also transferred meter readers outside of residential areas to prevent tampering and illegal connection.
So far, officials of Barangay Hipodromo already showed concern with the growing problem of power pilferage in their village.
The Hipodromo barangay council passed last September 18, 2005 a resolution asking the help of concerned government officials to address the said problem.
The officials cited the big amount of distribution charges they are paying to Peco and the potential hazard that illegal connections may cause in the resolution.
Hipodromo officials even named five residents allegedly made illegal connections to city streetlights: Roger Sabado, Tomas Murillo, Francisco Roquios Jr., Jose Marie Libo-on, and Anthony Macavinta.
Borja said they will also lobby for the passage of an ordinance outlawing unauthorized persons from climbing poles used by public utilities, especially Peco and telecommunication firms.
Anatan added they will immediately persecute violators of Republic Act 7832 or the Anti-Pilferage Act “primarily to protect the interest of our customers and also of the company.”

PGMA kin detained for Boracay credit card scam

By Jonathan Cabrera

BORACAY ISLAND – A first cousin of Presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Mikey Macapagal Arroyo has been detained here since Tuesday along with other suspects, one of them is reportedly the first wife of Tony Boy Cojuangco, for using fake credit cards.
Arrested was Ma. Marietta Quimson alias Maria Sylvia Garcia, 22, reportedly the first cousin of Rep. Arroyo, and Ma. Isabel Quiros, 46, said to be the first wife of Cojuangco.

The two were arrested together with Jung Gwan Seob, Anthony Cruz alias R. Cruz, Mark Mendoza, 41; Sean Eric Pineda, 30; David Pineda Martinez, 24; Jeremy Chun Lopsing, 32; Paolo Soler, 22; Andrew Tan Go, 27; and Jeremy Pineda 28. All of the suspects are residents of Makati and Quezon cities.
Reports gathered by The Guardian said the suspects owed Tourist Center Corporation (TCC) a total of P634,669.82 for various transactions since November 19, 2005 after it was found that the JBC and Amexco credits they used were bogus.
The TCC, which is located near the police station here, facilitates payment of credits incurred by credit-card holding tourists in the island.
The TCC informed the police of the suspects’ modus operandi/
A team from the Boracay Special Tourist Police Office (BSTPO) led by Supt. Remigio Gregorio put the suspects under surveillance until their arrest Tuesday.
The suspects refused to comment to the media but reports gathered by The Guardian showed the group is planning to settle their case with TCC.
Some of the establishments which the selects allegedly hoodwinked using fake credit cards include Boracay Regency Hotel, Mandala Spa, Seawind, Scuba World Diving, Island Surf, La Carmela Resort, Lonely Planet, El Centro Resort, and Aquaventure Whitetip Dive.
A certain Mariano “Nani Almeda,” reportedly the chief of staff of Rep. Arroyo, is the one negotiating for the settlement of the case.
The suspects are still detained at the lock-up cell of the BSTPO. (Published in The Guardian, November 25, 2005)


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