The House Committee on Energy has abandoned its plan to amend Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), which was supposed to address various issues concerning the power industry.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Committee on Energy chairman, said he decided to drop the move to amend Epira because of strong opposition from various sectors.
Instead of pushing for the revision of the entire law, Umali said it is more feasible to push for individual amendments by filing separate measures.
“It came out as about three or four bills. When I learned that the private sector doesn’t want to support it [Epira amendment], I realized that it is no longer doable so I disintegrated it,” said Umali.
Umali’s move was supported by Department of Energy Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Zenaida Monsada.
“I think this is better because for example, in the case of renewable [energy], it has its own law so we can make some adjustments on it,” said Monsada.
The energy official pointed out that it was better to look at the individual energy-related measures to determine their impact on Epira.
“The assessment would be thorough because you will know how to harmonize all these laws,” she said.
Umali had earlier stated they would not be dissuaded from amending the “anti-people, pro-corporation” Epira law to address skyrocketing power rates.
He lamented the fact that the Philippines has the highest electricity rates in the Southeast Asian region and the 9th highest in the world.
Among those that expressed opposition to amend the Epira law were the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and other business groups, arguing that amending Epira might drive investors away.
Besides MAP, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc., and the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines opposed Umali’s initial move to consider amendments to the Epira Law.