Malacañang on Sunday reaffirmed the Aquino administration’s stand against unjustified power rate hikes, amid reports that militant groups plan to stage a blackout protest on Tuesday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the government continue to keep tabs on the issue.
“The President and the government will continue to monitor developments on this issue. They remain determined not to allow an unjustified rate adjustment,” Coloma said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
Some groups earlier announced plans to hold a blackout protest on Jan. 21, the day the Supreme Court is to hold oral arguments on the P4.15 per kilowatt hour rate increase imposed by Meralco.
Coloma said the government will respect the views of some groups reportedly planning protest actions against the administration.
But he said the government is willing to listen to such groups if they have concrete suggestions related to the grievances they will raise.
Last week, a fourth petition contesting Meralco’s rate increase was filed before the Supreme Court.
The latest petitioner is former Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. of Iloilo, who wants the Court to rule as unconstitutional the order of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approving the unprecedented rate hike.
Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna and several congressmen were the first to challenge the rate increase before the Supreme Court. A second petition was filed by National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore), and a third by another group of lawmakers from the Anakpawis party-list.
Syjuco wants the tribunal to make permanent the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued against Meralco and ERC.
He said the Court must also compel Meralco to refund consumers who were already billed last December.
Syjuco said the ERC “abused its authority and discretion” in granting the rate hike, and denied Meralco’s end-users due process.
He said the Meralco, ERC, and other respondents Department of Energy (DOE), Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), Sem-Calaca Power Corp, Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd., Therma Luzon Inc., San Miguel Energy Corp, South Premiere Power Corp. and Therma Mobile Inc. must be prosecuted “for commission of any market abuse or economic sabotage which brought this highest power rate hike.”
The Supreme Court granted Meralco’s plea to include the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) and several power suppliers and generation companies (GenCos) as respondents in the case.
PNA and Jomar Canlas