ERC tells Visayan Electric: Investigate, act on reported extortions

·2 min read

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has directed the Visayan Electric Company to conduct a "prompt and thorough investigation of the alleged rampant extortion reports" during the restoration efforts of power supply in Metro Cebu after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai).

The agency, in a statement, has already sent a communication to Visayan Electric.

The reports were gathered by the ERC from the field and social media.

ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera said they have directed Visayan Electric to conduct "a prompt and thorough investigation of the matter and submit the result to the Commission in writing within 15 days from receipt of our directive."

Devanedara said the extortion incidents reported to the ERC involving either Visayan Electric "contractors or volunteers or both allegedly extorting money from consumers to expedite the restoration of their electricity are alarming and need the immediate appropriate action" by Visayan Electric.

The ERC also directed Visayan Electric to "include in its report the actions taken against those involved, if any, and the measures put in place to prevent extortion from being committed."

The power distributor was also instructed to expedite the restoration of electricity in its franchise area and inform the ERC and its consumers of the progress of its restoration, including the challenges encountered.

The ERC also received reports through various platforms, notably from social media, that the delay in restoring electricity in Cebu is not due to the damaged distribution lines, but due to the alleged rampant bribery and corruption of some people who prioritize the restoration of electricity of those who offer money.

“These reports of alleged extortion are truly disturbing and we cannot just disregard or take these things sitting down. We enjoin (Visayan Electric) to use the necessary means to obtain a thorough, comprehensive, and unbiased finding/s, including the use of witnesses’ testimony when available," Devanadera said.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page on January 4, 2022, Visayan Electric said it does not collect fees for energization or repair of collapsed poles or downed lines.

If there are personnel who offer energization / repair for a fee, please report immediately to 230-8326 or send us a message through our Facebook page.

To report, please provide the following details:

  • Extortionist's full name

  • Date & Time

  • Plate # of vehicle used

  • Photo/ Video (if available)

  • Payment details

  • Customer's name

  • Contact #

  • Acct ID & Acct name

"Visayan Electric is not liable for any damage or loss arising out of or in connection with the unauthorized re-energization arrangement entered into by customers. Visayan Electric does not warrant the quality of the wirings, equipment, or materials used in these unauthorized electricity connections," it said. (KAL)

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