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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, May 16, 2012
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City gov’t to
intervene in ERC case

The Bacolod City government will file a petition for intervention with the Energy Regulatory Commission through Mayor Evelio Leonardia so the city can cross examine the witnesses of Central Negros Electric Cooperative during the hearing to be conducted by the commission in Bacolod next month.

Acting Permits and Licensing head Vicente Petiere III also said that the ERC has set the hearing of the application of CENECO to be allowed to refund, collect over and under-recoveries, in Bacolod City, 9 a.m. June 8.

ERC granted the demand of Bayan Muna for the transfer of the hearings for rate increases to Bacolod, instead of its main office in Manila.

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia had also filed an opposition to the application of CENECO to collect from its consumers P414.6 million, and asked ERC to suspend the hearing of the case until CENECO conducts consultations with consumer members and explain the purpose, reason and effect of the application for under-recovery.

Petierre, who represented Leonardia, said there is a valid, legal and moral ground for the mayor to intervene since it is his moral obligation to take care of the concerns of his constituents which constitutes more than 80 percent of the consumers of CENECO, he said.

If the city is only an oppositor, it can only oppose but cannot cross-examine the witnesses of CENECO during the hearing, Petierre said.

This is the opportune time for the consumer-members to know the wisdom of the application CENECO to collect under-recoveries of P414.6 million, he said.

Petierre noted that from 2004 to 2010, the total under-recovery totaled P118 million. However, in 2011 alone, it has reached P296 million, he said, which CENECO should explain to its consumers.

Based on the statement of CENECO, they had no choice because they only complied with the order of ERC, Petierre said.

Petierre said it was only Leonardia who submitted a written opposition to the application of CENECO to collect from its consumer members under-recoveries amounting to P414.6 million, because the city has a moral obligation to oppose or intervene under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code.

Meanwhile, Petierre said the Lopez family should file a collection case if they want to collect the remaining payment for the sanitary landfill property.

He said the city acknowledges the right of the Lopez family and its obligation to them under the contract. It just so happen that there are some requirements, particularly on government procedures, that requires them to have the title of the property, he added.

Leonardia said the property has been substantially paid because, of the supposed P23.8 million contract price, the city has already paid the Lopez family P20 million.

It is almost 90-95 percent paid, he said. And besides, they had already taken possession of the property so they will see to it that the interest of the city will prevail, he added.

Leonardia said “We cannot afford to sacrifice that area for some supposed technicalities because for the general welfare, we will continue with the use of the property.”

In a radio interview, on the other hand, the security guards guarding the property said their presence was only to ensure that children do not bathe in the sanitary landfill that is filled with water when it rained and not for any other reason.*CGS

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