"Ilonggos are volunteering to dismantle their illegal connections."
After having kicked out the Panay Electric Company, which has ruled as Iloilo’s sole power distributor for 95 years, Ilonggos are now enjoying a much relative lower electricity rates.
This was after the island’s new distribution utility agent, More Power, cracked down on illegal connections. Initial efforts yielded close to 4,000 jumpers.
Recall that in 2019, Miescor Engineering Services Corp. conducted a technical study that revealed that almost 30,000 households were employing illegal electric connections, commonly referred to as jumpers. These illegal connections are said to have contributed to overloading of power lines which often results in power outages.
Worse, these illegal connections contribute largely to systems loss constituting 9.3 percent. Peco charged these losses to the consumers, making the power rates of Iloilo the highest in the country.
This mismanagement, according to sources, was what prompted the power consumers of Iloilo, all members of Peco, to support More Power’s takeover of the distribution utility services in the island.
And apparently, it has paid off. The crackdown on electric jumpers dubbed “Oplan Valeria” has unearthed 4,000 jumpers in just a matter of 10 days. And as the crackdown was happening in different parts of the city, 1,500 households responded to the campaign against jumpers by applying for new electric power connections.
Ariel Castaneda, head of More Power’s apprehension team, said that the distribution utility firm had since strengthened its drive to further help the consumers navigate an already streamlined process than it was before. He added that to date, around 1,000 residents in the city who used to rely on jumpers have already been installed with power meters of their own.
City residents who illegally rely on jumpers for their electrical connection know all too well that they can now face jail time, especially with the new electric power distribution firm sounding and acting serious in its bid to close the lid on illegal jumpers in the city.
Lawyer Allana Babayen-on, the company’s legal officer, earlier said that there are already six violators of the Anti-Pilferage Law who were hauled to court for the said offense. She added that those who would be proven guilty of electric power pilferage could serve a mandatory jail time of up to 12 years and/or a fine of up to P20,000.
Jumpers are illegal power connections using “jumper cables” that bypass the meter, exposing the perpetrators to high-voltage electricity in the process which, usually, is the cause of feeder overloads, causing brownouts as well as fires from explosions, and in some cases result in the perpetrators getting burned, being electrocuted or even dying.
For Punong Barangay John Gary Patnubay of Brgy. East Baluarte, Molo, the crackdown on jumpers comes as a blessing to finally end the usual incidents of fire traced to faulty electrical wiring which is normally the effect of jumper users in his barangay.
The official, noted for being very hands-on in assisting his constituents in the conversion of jumper users to being legitimate power consumers, said that it is the policy of More Power to make connections easy that has motivated his constituents to convert themselves into becoming legitimate users and stop the thieving of electricity in their locality.
More Power president Roel Castro, for his part, emphasized that cooperation by residents and barangay officials is key to a productive and successful endeavor in the community.
It’s nice to hear people in Iloilo are themselves volunteering to dismantle their illegal connections, putting the interests of other people first and foremost rather than their own selfish motives. If only the rest of the country would follow, we can all enjoy lower electric bills as we put an end to power pilferage.