Malacañang on Tuesday claimed that the latest wave of power rate hike is “not state-sponsored.”
In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. pointed out that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which approves Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)’s huge rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt-hour, was an independent of the executive department.
“Hindi po iyan naaayon sa tunay na facts of the case. Hindi po state-sponsored [That is not based on the facts of the case. That’s not state-sponsored],” Coloma told reporters.
“Independent body po iyong ERC from the Executive. Ibig sabihin po ng independent body, hindi po iyan under the—wala pong superior subordinate relationship between the President and the head of the ERC,” he added
Asked if Malacañang was ever informed by ERC that it had approved a power rate hike, Coloma insisted that the ERC does not report to the executive since they are “independent of us.”
The Palace official, however, had some doubts about the reasons given for the power rate increase.
“That is the purpose of the inquiry that is being conducted by the DOE [Department of Energy] on the one hand, and the Office of Competition of the Department of Justice,” he said
“And if it could be established na may sapat na batayan, e, siyempre po ang kanilang irerekomenda ay iyong pagpataw ng karampatang kaparusahan sa mga lumabag sa batas,” he added
President Aquino has ordered the energy department to check if certain power plant operators had colluded with one another to bring about an artificial shortage of electricity and thus hike its price.
The DOE is looking into this possible collusion among power plants that suspiciously shut down almost simultaneously last month, resulting in Meralco buying more expensive supply from the spot market. CATHERINE VALENTE