The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the petitioners questioning its P4.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate increase face off for the first time on Monday as the Supreme Court (SC) opens deliberations on whether the hike is justified.
The Court has set the preliminary conference at 2 p.m. where both parties will discuss and agree on issues to be taken up in the oral arguments on January 21.
Justice Marvic Leonen is the ponente, or the magistrate assigned to write the decision, on the case.
On Friday the SC ordered the petitioners to include power utilities as respondents.
The Energy Regulatory Commission and Meralco are the original respondents in the case. But the tribunal ordered in the inclusion of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp (Psalm), Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) and several power suppliers and generation companies (GenCos) as well.
Among the petitioners are Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate; Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus; ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio; and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.
In its 241-page comment, Meralco blamed its rate increase to the increase of the generation charge imposed by its suppliers.
“In the case at bar, the GenCos, PEMC and NGCP are indispensable parties . . . [who]stand to be injured or benefited by the outcome of the consolidated petitions, which ultimately seek to permanently enjoin Meralco from recovering the automatic increase in generation charge and other pass-through adjustments in the total amount of P4.1474/kWh for the December 2013 billing month,” Meralco stated.