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PHILRECA TO HELP IN CRACKDOWN VS POWER THIEVES

The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) has assured the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) of the electric cooperatives’ (ECs) full cooperation in its efforts to apprehend violators of Republic Act 7832 or the Anti-Pilferage Act of 1994.

PHILRECA president and party-list Rep. Presley De Jesus acknowledged that theft or pilferage of electricity is one of the serious problems among ECs, as this not only affects their financial condition but also their operational performance including the delivery of electric service to member-consumer-owners (MCOs). It can also, cause electrical accidents and fires.

“What these pilferers fail to realize is that they are not just stealing from the ECs. They are actually stealing from their family and neighbors, because such acts affect the distribution utilities’ optimal delivery of service to the community,” explained Rep. De Jesus.

The unlawful use of electricity is prohibited and punishable under Republic Act 7832, otherwise known as Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994.

The unlawful use of electricity is prohibited and punishable under Republic Act 7832, otherwise known as Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994.

The illegal use of electricity cited under Section 2 is punishable by prision mayor or a fine ranging from P10,000 to P20,000, or both, at the discretion of the court. 

Meanwhile, the theft of electric power transmission lines and materials under Section 3 is punishable by reclusion temporal or a fine ranging from P50,000 to P100,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.

Rep. De Jesus also urged MCOs to help their respective electric co-ops and police authorities to apprehend violators of Anti-Pilferage Law by reporting any electricity theft in their community.

“Let me emphasize this: pilferage of electricity is not just a problem of the utility itself – this eventually affects the MCOs as such illegal acts affect the DU’s operational and financial efficiency,” the legislator added.

In the case of Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. or ZAMCELCO, its intensive anti-pilferage campaign for the last two years has contributed to huge reduction in system loss. During 2019 and 2020, the distribution utility was able to recover 625,953 and 2,670,635 kWh resulting in a reduction of 0.08% and 0.37%, respectively, in system losses.

He also cited the case of Isabela I Electric Cooperative, Inc. or ISELCO I, which was able to reduce its system loss by conducting massive campaigns against electric pilferers, which eventually resulted in many violators being apprehended. The incentives given to informants were also increased to encourage the MCOs to be more vigilant.

“Let me emphasize this: pilferage of electricity is not just a problem of the utility itself – this eventually affects the MCOs as such illegal acts affect the DU’s operational and financial efficiency.”

Section 5 of R.A. 7832 states that any person who will report to the

National Power Corporation or police authorities any act which may constitute a violation of Section 3 will receive a monetary incentive of a minimum of P5,000.

The DILG recently issued a directive to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to assist local government units (LGUs) and electric distribution utilities (EDUs) in inspecting power facilities and identifying and penalizing power thieves. The order came amid reports of continued pilferage of electric transmission lines and materials. 

“We received reports on the theft of power cables and rampant use of illegal jumpers, especially in informal settler communities. We have therefore directed the PNP and LGUs to work with EDUs in pinning down power thieves who illegally use electricity or commit theft of electric power transmission lines and materials,” said DILG Officer-in-Charge Bernardo Florece, Jr.

The DILG also tasked the PNP and concerned LGUs to assist EDUs in preventing and removing obstructions to electric power lines pursuant to Republic Act 11361 or Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act.

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