May 23, 2024

■  Rimaliza A. Opiña 

The arrears incurred by the Smart command center of the city government of Baguio due to unsettled electrical bills was due to internal issues affecting the Benguet Electric Cooperative at the time, an official said.

Beneco has billed the city government P201,304 covering August 2021 to December 2022 incurred by the closed circuit cameras and other devices connected to the command center.

Beneco General Manager Melchor Licoben said just like the streetlights around the city’s parks and the barangays, the CCTVs, IoT boxes or the device that contains networks connecting and exchanging data with other devices on the Internet, and air quality monitoring device are unmetered hence necessitating for the city and Beneco to agree on a fixed rate as basis for billing.

Licoben said Beneco and the city were supposed to sign a memorandum of understanding but due to the management impasse at the time, the MOU could not be signed due to confusion as who can duly represent Beneco.

Compliance with budgeting requirements for LGUs also resulted in a delay of payment, Licoben said, and clarified the city was not given undue favor when power supply in those devices have not been cutoff.

On December 2023, the city council passed Ordinance 113, s. 2023 approving the request of Mayor Benjamin Magalong to charge P201,304 against the 2023 appropriations of the Smart City Command Center.

The unpaid electricity bills were incurred starting August 2021 amounting to P6,928.99. The bill in September that year amounted to P11,850.92; October, P11,738.74; November, P11,292.11; and December, P11,863.10.

In 2022, the command center’s obligation totaled P147,630.14.