Kidapawan owes P8M in electricity bills

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/02 September) – The city government’s unpaid electricity bills since 2010 have reached P8 million and its offices may face disconnection from the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) if it could not settle its obligations by Sept. 15.

City councilor Lauro Taynan said during the Kapihan sa AJ Hi-Time today that the city council will investigate, in aid of legislation, why [the city government] failed to pay its electric bills.

Taynan, chair of the committee on energy said he was surprised at the amount because they have passed some resolutions from 2010 to 2013 allocating supplemental budget for the payment of electricity bills.

“Where did our money go?” he asked.

All the departments of the city government were allowed to realign part of their budget for payment of all their obligations, including electric bills, the councilor added.

“So how come we accumulated such huge debt? This is going to be subject of our inquiry during our regular session on Thursday,” said Taynan.

He said he has already asked the accounting and budget offices for documents on the payments for the electric bills since 2010.

Former city mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco, during whose administration the arrears were incurred, is now the vice mayor.

Councilor Ruby Padilla-Sison, a member of Taynan’s committee said she will also ask Cotelco officials to explain to the council why they gave the city government “some sort of privilege” in relation to unpaid bills.

“Why is an ordinary vendor, who, because of shortage in his income, could not pay his electricity bill on time, is immediately given a notice of disconnection? Why is it that the city government, which has clear source of resources, is given a privilege when it can’t pay on time? Sison said during the Kapihan

“What is true to an ordinary Juan dela Cruz should be a lot true to the city government or to anybody,” she added.

City Mayor Joseph Evangelista said he received two weeks ago a notice of disconnection from Cotelco. The city government, he said, has until September 15 to pay its obligations.

Evangelista said he already asked the council to approve the release of the P5.7-million supplemental budget part of which would go to the unpaid electricity bills.

Cotelco general manager Godofredo Homez said the debts cover at least P5 million for street lights and the rest for offices.

Homez said Cotelco has already cut off the power connection at the Commission on Elections and the Association of Barangay Councils Hall since last week. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)