35 poll precincts still without power
By Donnabelle Gatdula
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – A number of polling precincts and canvassing centers in the franchise area of power utility firm Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) are still without power, a company official said.
Meralco vice president and head of sub-transmission services networks Rustico de Borja Jr. told a press briefing yesterday that about 35 polling precincts and canvassing centers are still not connected to the Meralco system.
He, however, assured the public that they are currently assessing the critical areas to ensure that there would be no power outages in its franchise area on election day.
So far, there are more than 100 canvassing centers and about 2,800 polling precincts assigned to the jurisdiction of Meralco for the coming May 10 elections.
De Borja said they are in the process of completing the inspections of these canvassing centers and polling precincts.
He expressed optimism that they would complete the repairs or reconnection of polling precincts or canvassing centers to the main power lines before May 1.
Meralco has over four million customers in its franchise area located in Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna.
“Based on our inspections, it’s either the line was cut due to non-payment or pilferage or they have been disconnected for a long time,” he said.
He said the 35 polling centers that don’t have power supply are located in Caloocan, Montalban and Bulacan.
De Borja said Meralco would also ensure adequate supply of power in major election offices such as the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), the accredited poll watchdog, as well as other vital government offices in the metropolis.
“We scan the lines so far and we foresee no other problems except for the overloading,” he said.
He said power overloading in schools used as polling precincts is normally caused by the use of more than one appliance.
Under normal days, he said a classroom would use only one lighting fixture and an electric fan.
He said they would also be watching the impact of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines on the power load.
Each polling center will have a PCOS machine and a backup, as well as a transmission set.
He said these PCOS machines are not expected to use Meralco’s power supply since it has its own battery that could last for 16 hours.
Meralco president Jose de Jesus, on the other hand, said the company is closely coordinating with the Comelec to take appropriate action in areas that have no power supply.
De Jesus said these areas could be accommodated if the Department of Education (DepEd) or Comelec will apply for its reconnection.
“If they will not apply this we can connect it but I was told that they might put generator sets in these areas,” he added.
De Jesus, however, is still wary about unforeseen circumstances during election time.
“We cannot guarantee that there will be no brownout because that’s beyond our control,” he said.