BAGUIO CITY — Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) clarified its side of the issue regarding the requirements for electrical power connection and the street lights concern in a press conference held at its office Wednesday.
On the issue of the application for electric current in residences and establishments here in Baguio City, according to General Manager Gerardo Verzosa, Beneco requires applicants to provide the Certificate of Final Electrical Inspection (CFEI) and an electrical permit. This is to ensure that electric current installation is safe and would not hold Beneco liable to any damage caused by poor electrical operations.
However, the City Building and Architecture Office (CBAO), that issues such permits, does not grant application without a building permit. This prerequisite for electric power connection is already revoked by a Baguio City ordinance:
A city ordinance has repealed an earlier ordinance that required a building permit for electrical installations, according to Verzosa.
He quoted: “City Ordinance No. 52 series of 1992: Amending Ordinance Numbered 45, Series of 1992 entitled “An Ordinance Prohibiting Repealing Ordinance Numbered 94- 88, An Ordinance Prohibiting the Installation of Electric and Water Supply to Buildings without Building Permit.”
“Section 1. Section 1 of Ordinance No. 45, series of 1992, of the City of Baguio, is hereby amended to read as follows “Section 1 Ordinance No. 94 series of 1988 entitled “An Ordinance Prohibiting the Installation of Electric and Water Supply to Buildings without Building Permit” be repealed, as it is hereby repealed, in its entirety.”
Beneco claims the city is violating its own ordinance because this clearly states that a building permit is not a requirement for electric power connection. Verzosa also said that the majority of informal settlers in the city could not avail of electricity due to the required permit. Because of this, some settlers result to acquiring fake CFEIs and other requirements and worse, some connect electrical power by themselves, which is prohibited by the law and is very dangerous.
Verzosa also added there were settlers that acquire CFEIs and Electrical Permit without the building permit from CBAO. Verzosa added this only proved that there is no consistency in the side of the city particularly the CBAO.
Beneco was constrained to explain because people were blaming it for the inconsistency for requirements.
Another issue BENECO addressed in its press conference is the possibility for the cooperative to manage and maintain the streetlights of Baguio City for 12 usage/burning hours, instead of the present ten usage/burning hours or a two-hour increase in the usage/burning hours.
Verzosa averted that the increase in the burning hours will not be considered additional revenue because it will be used to properly maintain the streetlights to ensure that all of them are functioning. However, he believed the city council specifically Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda views this proposal as excessive.
Also, Verzosa said the additional 2-burning hours will not add to the cost of the city for it corresponds to the already budgeted cost of repair and maintenance of streetlights. Hence, this budgeted cost will be re-allocated for the payment of the additional energy consumption due to the increase in the number of burning hours.
On the contrary, BENECO claimed that their proposal has been approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and municipalities in Benguet like La Trinidad, Sablan and Tuba already recognized the cooperative offer and already agreed to the 12-burning hours per fixture under a Memorandum of Agreement.
In the regular council session Monday, Tabanda clarified she is not against BENECO’s proposal but the people must hear the side of the city first. This session was attended by baranggay officials from all over Baguio.
The city council has yet to clarify its side of the issues. # Vhon Estillero