• Petilla pleads: Give Epira a chance

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    Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla believes that the private sector is more efficient to run power plants as he denied the claims of some lawmakers that the Electrical Power Industry Reform Act or Epira has been a failure.

    There are 14 bills or resolutions on Epira pending at the House of Representatives and lawmakers have began hearings on amendments to RA 9136. Some want amendments while others want the law repealed.

    “There are provisions that we can amend but as a general perspective of Epira, it should be given a chance,” Petilla told reporters.

    “It has worked to some extent, it may need to be finetuned but scrapping it is a whole different issue, what do you replace it with?” he added.

    But Akbayan Party-list Rep. Walden Bello insisted that the law should be scrapped.

    “This is an antiquated law that has not worked,” he noted during the committee hearing on amendments to Epira.

    Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares holds the same opinion.

    “Epira failed to deliver its promise of low or affordable electricity prices. There are many bills that seek to repeal it, amend it and one of these is to return generation as a public utility,” he said.

    Colmenares stressed that under Epira, electricity rates increased.

    “Instead of delivering promises Epira has in fact brought the opposite. Instead of lower prices, higher prices. Instead of the free market, a monopoly control of the industry. Epira has not brought about a more efficient generation and distribution . . . but so much more inefficient,” Bello said.

    Colmenares agreed.
    “Once the rates increase, the effect is inflationary . . . the price of products that use electricity will increase,” he said, adding that consumers have a chance to fight for a refund but the effects of inflation cannot be undone.

    “For example, you can’t go back to the store and say that the pair of shoes you bought was overpriced,” he pointed out.

    House Committee on Energy Chairperson Reynaldo Umali vowed an “exhaustive review” of the various measures that seek to repeal, review or revise Epira.

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