Visayan Electric probing linemen ‘extortion' raps

Published January 13, 2022, 2:15 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Power utility firm Visayan Electric Company is investigating complaints that some of its linemen or contractors are allegedly resorting to extortion in exchange for prioritization of re-energization of customers’ homes or establishments.

In a statement to the media, the company sounded off that it is “taking this concern seriously” to assure the public that individuals or entities apprehended doing such illegal acts “will be penalized accordingly.”

To lay hold of these unscrupulous individuals, Visayan Electric primarily sought the cooperation of the public “not to entertain or participate in these illegal activities.” The utility also urged them to report such incidents via its hotline number (230-8326) or send a direct message to its facebook page.

The power company apprised consumers at its franchise area that “it is not liable for any damage or loss arising out of or in connection with the unauthorized re-energization arrangement entered into by customers.”

It further stated that “Visayan Electric does not warrant the quality of wirings, equipment or materials used in these unauthorized electricity connections.”

The jurisdictions served by Visayan Electric are the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Naga and Talisay, as well as the towns of Consolacion, Liloan, Minglanilla and San Fernando. And in last month’s wallop of typhoon Odette, its service areas had been among those hardly hit by that natural disaster.

As explained by the utility firm, “illegal connections are unsafe as they expose the public to fire and electrocution hazards,” and these are punishable under Republic Act 7832 or the Anti-Pilferage of Electricity and Theft of Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Act of 1994.

Visayan Electric specifically apprised customers that its accredited contractors and industry partners working within its franchise area “do not require nor accept any re-electrification or prioritization fees.”

It further indicated that “restoration of electricity is free of charge,” as the company also gave word that its ground grew would be working round-the-clock to speed up the restoration of electricity from the devastation of death-dealing typhoon Odette last December.

“Visayan Electric continues to make progress in its re-electrification efforts, with a total of 269,747 customers energized as of noon of Wednesday (January 12),” the power firm stressed.

With service restoration already escalating, the company emphasized that power demand in the area already reached a scale of 375 megawatts; or roughly 75 percent now versus pre-Odette level.

It cited though that as repair and rehabilitation works are ongoing, its team on the field has so far been discovering aggravating hurdles on restoration because of the magnitude of damage sustained by some facilities.

Based on the power firm’s recent assessment, it logged at least 1,997 damaged poles – and that was reckoned to be three-and-a-half times more than the 560 damaged poles reported on December 26, adding that “this number continues to rise as the utility accesses far-flung areas.”