A militant labor group on Sunday chided the Palace for claiming “helplessness” in mediating in the power hike issue and prodding the consumers to accept the additional burden.
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) was referring to last week’s statement of Palace Deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte, that the executive branch is “helpless” in addressing the perennial issue of power rate hikes.
The group accused Malacanang of intertwining half-truths and half-lies to misinform electricity consumers about the Palace’s “helplessness” making the electric consumers “vulnerable to corporate vultures.”
“It’s that heartlessness and lack of political will of this administration to provide economic relief to the masses without reaping the ire of private corporations in the power industry that are supportive of President Aquino,” said Gie Relova, regional leader of the BMP in Metro Manila and Rizal.
While the BMP admits that Valte was right in saying that the Palace is “helpless” with regards to directly intervening in the price of electricity because of a deregulated power industry, she is “lying through her teeth” when she said that the Executive is powerless to address the electricity price hikes.
“The incompetence of the likes of Valte is the very same reason that placed the Philippines on top of the list of countries with the most expensive electricity in Asia and in the top ten worldwide, which is also the primary reason why investors shy away from the Philippines,” the group said.
It said “there are a number of ways within the powers of the Executive to mitigate the impacts of power rate hikes without stepping on the toes of the Legislative and the Judiciary.”
“With one stroke of a pen, the President can suspend, anytime, the collection of value added tax on the entire or portion of the power industry to reduce power cost,” Bukluran said.
It said the government rakes in hefty amounts of tax from multiple VAT collections for every transaction from the importation of combustibles such as oil and coal up to end consumer.
“But unlike commercial and industrial users that can pass their VAT and electricity costs to their clients, it is the ordinary wage-earner that bears the full burden of the intrinsic flaws of the EPIRA and the parasitic VAT,” Bukluran said.
Suspending the VAT alone, the group said, can liberate ordinary consumers from their budgetary constraints through their savings from their electricity bills “only if Aquino genuinely treats the people as his bosses and not the oligopoly.”