’Fake’ linemen’ charging for power reconnection to face arrest

Authorities will not hesitate to arrest and press charges against individuals who will pose as linemen or contractors of the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) and ask payment from households and establishment owners for power reconnection, a police official said on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, deputy chief for operations of the Cebu City Police Office, said in a presser that Veco had released an advisory denying reports from netizens that it was prioritizing reconnecting power lines to those clients who pay service contractors.

“That would be part of the monitoring of our personnel. We will also conduct ricorida (mobile public information drive) to the communities to warn our residents about these contractors. Let’s inform the public that it is not allowed to give money in exchange of electricity,” he said.

He stressed the policy of the power distribution company disallowing such practice.

In its advisory last week, Veco said it does not collect fee for “reenergization or repair or collapsed poles and downed lines”.

This unscrupulous practice, Parilla said, has also destroyed the reputation of linemen from Luzon and Mindanao who are in this city, working 24 hours to help restore power in Metro Cebu in the aftermath of the onslaught of Typhoon Odette last month.

He advised the city residents to immediately report to the nearest police station or to Veco, through its social media account, if they would be approached by individuals who would introduce themselves as service contractors and ask for power reconnection fee.

“We will arrest them. Veco will be the complainant and the victims who were made to pay or asked to pay for power reconnection will become the witnesses,” Parilla said.

Strong winds brought by Typhoon Odette felled several electric poles and destroyed power lines and transformers in Metro Cebu on December 16.

Thousands of homes remain without power to date, 19 days after the typhoon.

Veco reported that as of Monday, 132,397 or 28 percent of its 474,182 affected customers have been reenergized through the efforts of their linemen and the augmentation team from their allied companies.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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