By Ben Rosario
At least 1,464 fire incidents or over 50 percent of the 2,887 fire that hit Iloilo City since 2014 were caused by pole and electric line faults, the Bureau of Fire Protection has reported to the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The report submitted by Iloilo City Fire Marshall Chief Inspector Christopher Regencia was among the reasons that prodded lawmakers to call on the ERC to immediately resolve a complaint filed by incumbent Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas against the Panay Electric Cooperative (PECO).
Treñas, a former congressman, lamented the lack of trained technical people to address the problem, saying the lives of his constituents could be in danger.
PECO reportedly owns the poles that Regencia blamed for many fires in the past five years.
Regencia said one of those burned electricity poles fell on its own in a street near the Archbishop’s Palace in Iloilo City Wednesday night.
Regencia said he reported to the ERC that PECO informed the BFP that it has no technical people to attend to the pole fires except to monitor and document those cases.
He finds PECO’s alleged failure to deal with fire incidents involving its electricity poles a big dent in the resources of the fire department, unlike in other cities like in Cagayan de Oro City where he was last assigned before Iloilo City where the distribution utility has its own fire prevention and containment unit to deal with pole fires.
In his complaint before the ERC, Treñas aired serious concern over the fire which he blamed on PECO’s “inadequately maintained lines, power outages, and hazardous electric posts”.
In separate statements, Reps. Julienne Baronda (NUP, Iloilo City) and Jerico Nograles (PBA Partylist) reminded the ERC that unless the controversy is resolved, there will be uncertainty in the power situation in the island.
Baronda lauded Treñas decision to file the complaint which was coursed through Malacañang.
Baronda said PECO’s operation should be investigated in connection with incidents of electricity pole fires that were allegedly caused by aged transformers or overloaded wires.