The Iloilo City government conveyed that Panay Electric Co. (PECO) needed to settle P90-M worth of unpaid real-estate taxes before it can renew its business permit.
City government’s Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) Head Norman Tabud explained that PECO did not secure a business license to operate in 2019, violating the city’s Tax Revenue Code.
“[PECO] had failed to secure a business permit to operate since last year because of an instruction from the City Treasurer’s Office to hold in abeyance the issuance of the permit, pending the company’s payment of its realty tax obligations,” Tabud was quoted saying in a BusinessMirror report.
These violations could affect the firm’s temporary Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that required all distribution utilities to comply with all legal requirements before operating in any area.
PECO’s temporary CPCN is valid for two years to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply in Iloilo until MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MEPC) has established and can fully operate its own distribution system.
Tabud explained that PECO’s penalties arose from a new ruling from the City Treasurer stating that the lot on which PECO’s aged electricity poles are located are also taxable real estate.
“We must note that the amount owed by PECO to the City is now more than P90-M since the penalties are piling up. For PECO to be issued a business permit renewal, they have to settle first their real property tax as a matter of procedure pursuant to our local revenue code,” Tabud stated in the report.
In related news, PECO is already being investigated by the ERC because of a complaint filed by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas
PECO did not provide comments on the alleged unpaid taxes. However, the firm explained that the widespread power outage came at a time when power distributorship was being challenged by the MEPC.
“The blackout happened because of factors beyond the control of PECO and yet MORE conveniently used the incident to show us in a bad light by conveniently overlooking the facts,” PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho was quoted as saying.
“First of all, we must clarify that PECO is a power distributor and not power generator. We only distribute the power that is generated by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). NGCP did not restore power after 30 minutes. In fact, we were checking for updates from the NGCP but nothing came. They only advised us that we can already restore power 11 hours after the power outage started. It was NGCP and not out supplier who held back the clearance to restore because they had to stabilize the supply of the grid,” Cacho explained.
Moreover, it was added that the statement issued by MORE is not grounded on actual facts but was rather an attempt to do black propaganda against PECO.