Meralco scheme to thwart TRO denounced

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A former lawmaker on Tuesday scored the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for trying to collect its controversial power rate hike despite the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) and said the utility firm should be held accountable.

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Former Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño of Bayan Muna party-list exposed Meralco’s attempt to collect the first tranche of its record P4.15 per kilowatt-hour increase by passing it off as “balance from previous billing.”

“In my monthly bill dated February 13, 2014, there is included a ‘balance from previous billing’ of P173.70 which, although described as ‘deferred, pending resolution of SC temporary restraining order [TRO],’ was added to my total current amount of P2,786.86 making my total amount due P2,960.56,” he narrated.

“When I inquired about this with Meralco’s customer service call center, I was advised to ‘ignore’ the total amount due of P2,960.56 and just pay the total current amount,” Casiño added.

He said his group, People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (Power), will ask the SC and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to stop Meralco from deceiving its customers.

“Such practices should not be allowed and Meralco should be held accountable. We shall file the formal complaints within the week,” he added.

He scored Meralco for putting the rate increase in the bill even if the high court has not lifted its TRO.

“Obviously, Meralco is trying to get around the SC’s TRO by surreptitiously adding the controversial rate hike that should not have been included in the monthly bill in the first place,” Casino said.

“Nagbabakasakaling makalusot ang Meralco [Meralco is trying to get around the rules]. If my wife did not point out the anomaly and I did not bother to check with their customer service, I would have done what most consumers habitually do—simply pay what is in the total amount due portion of the bill,” he added.

Casino claimed the scheme is in violation of the SC order.

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