Debt Plunges Pantabangan In Darkness

PANTABANGAN, Nueva Ecija - Residents of this energy-producing town bewailed yesterday massive brownouts that stem from the debt of Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (PAMES) First Gen Hydro Power Corporation (FGHPC).

For the second time this year, nearly all of Pantabangan was without electricity because of FGHPC's decision to cut off the power it supplies the local government unit (LGU)-controlled PAMES, which distributes power to homes, on Thursday.

PAMES was also disconnected from the FGHPC grid last February 11 due to the power distribution cooperative's P52 million of unpaid bills to FGHPC since 2007.

Dennis Gonzales, FGHPC vice president, said they have been negotiating with PAMES since the latter first ran into arrears in 2007, but PAMES officials led by Pantabangan Mayor Romeo Borja Sr. have repeatedly breached various restructuring agreements.

In the statement sent to Manila Bulletin, it said that for the third time in nine months, power supply was cut off to Pantabangan town in Nueva Ecija province, due to unsettled bills, host to one of the biggest dams in the country.