Townsfolk upbeat over prospect of power reconnection

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    PANTABANGAN, Nueva Ecija – Residents of this municipality are upbeat about the prospect of tasting life with electricity after about four months of outage.

    Amante Miranda, a resident of Barangay Cambitala here, said that residents who frequented his house to charge mobile phones and rechargeable lamps would talk about hope that the incoming municipal leadership will be able to settle accounts with the First Gen Hydro Power Corp., the power generating company that supplies electricity to Pantabangan Municipal Electric System (PAMES).

    Cambitala, an outskirt village of this town, was spared from the cut-off because it belonged to the service area of the Nueva Ecija II Electric Cooperative (Neeco II).

    “Masayang- masaya ang mga tao sa bayan namin dahil para sa kanila ay hindi normal ang buhay mula nang mawala ang kuryente,” Miranda said, adding only a few moneyed individuals were able to purchase power generator sets for their own business and household requirement.

    Shiela Macapagal-Chavez, a 42-year-old housewife from Poblacion East here said her family bought a small gen-set because of her 63-year-old mother in law who is suffering from a heart ailment.

    “Nahirapan po talaga kami sa pagkawala ng kuryente kaya kung mababalik na uli ay ito na ang pinakamagandang balita sa amin,” she said.

    Former government employee turned civil society leader Gerardo Sator said they expect FGHPC to reconnect electricity at the town proper for a few hours on June 30, when newly elected local officials take their posts.

    But he admitted that there should a lot of “home keeping” to do on PAMES, including correction of lines and electric meters.

    Dennis Gonzales, FGHPC vice president, said the firm which supplies electricity to Pantabangan Municipal Electric System (PAMES) keeps its line open for e re-negotiation.

    “I think yun yung pinag-iisipan ngayon kung pwedeng kausapin na yung papasok para kung meron mang maayos na agreement baka pwedeng mapabalik yung kuryente,” Gonzales said.

    FGHPC cut off power in the town on March 7 due to debts incurred by PAMES, the power distributor run by the local government of Pantabangan.

    The electricity was temporarily reconnected for the May 13 midterm elections but was cut on May 15.

    “Kung willing namang mag-commit yung papalit,” Gonzales said in response to questions of possible early reconnection.

    Gov. Aurelio Umali has said that offsetting to real property taxes paid by the firm would settle the bills in at least six months.

    Gonzales said PAMES has a current bill of P5.8 million aside from the outstanding obligation of some P44 million.

    The firm, he said, would ask only for the current bill. “Hindi naman malaki. Hindi katulad ng dati na P50 million na pino-pondohan ng property tax,” Gonzales said.

    He said, however, that negotiations would be subject to the approval of their credit department.

    Residents hoped their agony for lack of electricity will end with the election of new officials.

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