MORE Power president and COO Roel Castro (foreground, in yellow) points to Engr. Randy Pastolero (left photo, left), executive assistant for public utilities, and Mayor Treñas’s executive assistant Francis Cruz (left photo, middle) the improved meter installations and the other upgrades the distribution utility had set up in the village to transform it into a “jumper-free” community./iNews
ILOILO CITY—Barangay San Pedro in the district of Molo, for so long the hotbed of illegal electric connection—termed “jumpers”—in all of Iloilo City, is now officially ‘clean’.
From MORE Electric and Power Corporation president and chief operating officer Roel Z. Castro himself it was learned the then-notorious barangay now has zero cases of illegal connections, and on account of that, was formally proclaimed a model barangay earlier today, February 17.
As a model barangay, San Pedro was treated to a makeover by the city’s power utility distribution firm, receiving an additional transformer and 17 new concrete electric poles on which the electric meters are now neatly arranged. MORE also straightened out the dangling “spaghetti” wires in the vicinity, instantly ridding the place of eyesores.
Other public utility companies in the city of Iloilo, including telecom and broadband companies such as PLDT-Smart and Globe, also cooperated in the cleaning up of the barangay.
Metro Pacific Iloilo Water, meanwhile, helped put in order the water supply lines in the said village.
“We really grabbed the opportunity to work with all the other utility companies here for this undertaking. Of course, (doing it) with the cooperation of the barangay and the blessings of the city government,” Castro said, after a roving inspection of the newly minted model barangay alongside Executive Assistant to the Mayor Francis Cruz. “Ang gusto natin, malinis at ligtas ang mga barangay [We really want the barangays clean and safe].”
He also credited the “crucial and instrumental” cooperation of San Pedro barangay officials for the success of the mission.
“Kung wala ‘yung cooperation ng barangay, pag papasok kami, iba ang tingin eh. (Kung) Mag-a-apprehend kami, we will not get the support of the people. But with barangay officials doing the rounds with us, alam nila na mga representatives at officials ito ng barangay, wala tayong kaba [If we don’t have the cooperation of the barangay, people would eye us strangely when we enter (their place). If we try to apprehend, we will not get the support of the people. But with barangay officials doing the rounds with us—because they recognize their representatives and officials—we have no worries],” the MORE top honcho averred.
Castro said that with barangay officials in tow, they are able to enter houses, give out the application forms, and explain things to the residents. “Everything is just a whole lot easier,” he said.
For Castro, this was the realization: that a model barangay is not a model based on the infrastructure alone.
“Brgy. San Pedro is a model because its very transformation also showcases the cooperation among many sectors of society,” he quipped.
Meanwhile, Cruz, who represented the city government in lieu of Mayor Jerry Treñas in today’s activity, said it is essential to change the mindset of people who think the only reason power utility personnel go to a barangay is to disconnect service or apprehend power thieves.
“Once that happens, once people understand that there can be a working relationship between the distributor and the barangay, it would be so much easier to ‘penetrate’ these places,” Cruz, who heads the city’s Local Economic and Investment Promotions Office (LEIPO), said.
San Pedro Brgy. Capt. Carl John Lapascua, for his part, said that their biggest challenge was to explain to the barangay folks the purpose of MORE Power’s visits.
“Pero tungod dira nakita sang amon mga pumuluyo nga kita sa barangay nagatinguha gid nga mabag-o man ang reputasyon sang aton lugar. Kag tungod sa programa ni Mayor Treñas nga Level Up, magalevel-up man kita tanan. [But because of this, our constituents now know that we in the barangay are doing everything we can to uplift the reputation of our barangay. That, under Mayor Treñas’s Level Up program, we can all level up, too],” he stated.
When asked by INews as to the actual number of households that used to employ jumpers but are now legally connected, Castro said 301 out of total 714 households in San Pedro had illegal connections.
“Ang pagkakaalam natin when we started this, almost half of the total 714 households in San Pedro were using jumpers. But right now, to tell you frankly, zero. Lahat ng mga illegally-connected households, nag-apply na. And out of that more than 300 households that applied for a connection, siguro merong sampu na talagang indigent. Wala silang pang-deposit kaya hinanapan na lang natin ng paraan to help them get connected legally [As far as we know when we started this, almost half of the total 714 households in San Pedro were using jumpers. But right now, to tell you frankly, zero. All the illegally-connected households had applied. And out of the more than 300 that applied for a connection, I think there are 10 that are indigents. They don’t have the money to pay the deposit so we took it upon ourselves to find a way for them to get connected legally],” the MORE Power prexy further averred.
And why San Pedro?
“Kasi, noong November, nagkasunog. December, nagkasunog ulit. So, sabi ko, kung hindi natin lilinisin ‘yan to get rid of all those illegal connections, magkakasunog ulit. You see, before now, there was only one transformer here, and it was the cause of the frequent fires in the area due to overloading. With almost half of the total households illegally connected and with only a single transformer serving all of them, it’s no wonder nagkakaroon ng madalas na sunog sa lugar. So kung gusto nating linisin ang lugar to make it safe, linisin natin ng tama, hindi lang ‘yung simpleng maglalagay tayo ng bagong transformer and that’s it [Because there was a fire here in November. Then again in December. And I said if we don’t clean this up, if we don’t get rid of all those illegal connections, there will be more fires. You see, before now, there was only one transformer here, and it was the cause of the frequent fires in the area due to overloading. With almost half of the total households illegally connected and with only a single transformed serving all of them, it’s no wonder fires were frequent. So if we want to clean up a place and make it safe, let’s do it properly. Let us not think that all it needs is a new transformer, and that’s it],” Castro concluded./(N. Glenn Aragon/iNews)