Nalzaro: Bribery in power restoration?

·3 min read

I am still on leave from my tri-media work since Christmas Day due to an unexpected event that happened to me physically. I am still in the process of recovering. This is my first SunStar Cebu write-up after I missed two consecutive issues.

But despite the fact that I am on leave, I have received several complaints from the public regarding the ongoing repairs and rehabilitation of our power and water utilities. Consumers have become hopeless and frustrated because it has been more than three weeks since super Typhoon Odette totally devastated us and yet several areas are still in total darkness and without water.

But in fairness, linemen from various power utilities and their augmentation force from outside Cebu have been working 24/7 to restore electricity in the homes of thousands affected by the onslaught of Odette. Linemen spent hours on field away from their families, even during Christmas and New Year, just to bring back electricity. But the extent of Odette’s damage is just too huge.

I know how these linemen are religiously doing their job but we cannot dismiss the public’s suspicions that there may be certain motives. What are their priority areas? A well-known and respected society columnist even texted me and insinuated that there is possible corruption or bribery that is happening. Some customers will bribe linemen or give them some sort of ‘token’ so that their line will be prioritized. She said big subdivisions are prioritized but their small village is not. This accusation is unfair but might be true.

I live in a small condotel along Jakosalem Street. Until now, electricity has not yet been restored in the area. I also requested the Visayan Electric if they can prioritize broadcast transmitter areas so we can continue our operations, but to no avail. We are at their mercy. Broadcast stations (radio and TV) are spending thousands of pesos just to support their operations. We even shortened our broadcast hours to save on fuel. Wala gyud tay mahims.

In the meantime, it’s interesting when some sectors take advantage of the situation to score ‘pogi points.’ Right after Typhoon Odette hit Cebu City and parts of the province, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Felix Taguiam immediately reported to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama that the CCCI has “made arrangements” with the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) come to Cebu and help restore power.

I was hoping that the CCCI would make it funnier and also claim that they organized the Davao Light and Power Corporation, Cotabato Light and Power Company and Subic Enerzone Corporation to help Cebu, especially that these are sister-companies of the Aboitiz Power Corporation. Distribution utilities usually help each other during calamities. When Typhoon Ompong hit Luzon in 2018, the Visayan Electric Company sent its own linemen to help. There have been several instances in the past when the players from the energy sector showed their bayanihan spirit. But it’s embarrassing that the CCCI will do this especially during this time of calamity. My small piece of advice to Mr. Taguiam nga dili intawon mangangkon tanan. Ang tinuod nga hero mao ang mga linemen ug mga distribution utilities sama sa Meralco, Davao Light, Cotabato Light, Subic Enerzone, Dagupan Electric, Pampanga Electric, Angeles Electric, Iligan Electric and Tarlac Electric.

Daghan kaayong magpa-‘pogi’ ning panahon sa kalamidad.

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