• Solons warn Meralco: Stop the ‘blackmail’

    8

    The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) should stop “blackmailing” and threatening consumers with massive blackouts in the coming months
    if the Supreme Court (SC) does not lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the power rate hike sought by the power firm, lawmakers said on Friday.

    Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list said that Meralco and other power generators are blackmailing electricity consumers into accepting higher power rates supposedly to prevent blackouts.

    “This is clear blackmail. Meralco and [Philippine Independent Power Producers Association President Luis Miguel] Aboitiz are trying to circumvent the Supreme Court temporary restraining order with this threat,” Colmenares said.

    The government is taking steps to avert Meralco’s warning of “rotating blackouts.”

    In a text message, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said that the government is working with the concerned stakeholders to balance the power supply and demand to address possible power outages.

    The Energy department, he said, is trying to mediate between Meralco and the power generators in the hopes of finding a “practical solution.”

    “While the SC TRO is pending and to ensure the continuity of service, the DOE [Department of Energy] has been in the process of mediating between Meralco and the power generators on a practicable solution as to how fuel costs will be shouldered between the parties and to reconcile their accounts depending on the final outcome of the case,” Petilla said.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. reiterated that the government is ready to protect consumers from excessive power rate increases.

    “Tungkulin ng pamahalaan na pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng mga mamamayan [It is the duty of this government to defend the welfare of its citizen],” Coloma said.

    “Tungkulin din ng Meralco at ng lahat ng kompanya sa industriya ng kuryente na gawin ang narararapat upang tiyaking makatatanggap ng ganap na serbisyo ang mga mamamayan. Makikipag-ugnayan ang pamahalaan sa industriya para matamo ang layuning ito [It is also the duty of Meralco and other power firms to implement fair increase in electricity rates. We will coordinate to attain this goal],” he added.

    In its 230-page comment and counter-petition submitted to the SC, Meralco said that because of the TRO, generation companies might refuse to sell electricity to them.

    “Either way, the insufficient power supply will result in rotating blackouts, particularly during the summer months, which historically drive up the demand for electricity,” Meralco wrote.

    Not enough cash
    Last week, Aboitiz warned that because the P4.15 per kilowatt hour power rate hike was halted by the SC’s TRO on December 23, power plants might not have the cash to pay fuel suppliers to keep their facilities running.

    “Those plants would not be able to generate power until they have cash to pay for their fuel,” Aboitiz said.

    Colmenares urged the government, especially the Energy department, to guard the public against the power cartel’s “deceitful” acts.

    “Ang mga consumers na nga ang niloloko ng Meralco at power generators dahil sa sobrang taas na singil sa kuryente tapos gusto pa nilang manakot ngayon [It was the consumers who have been fooled by Meralco and power generators because of the soaring electricity rates, and yet they’re the ones threatening us now],” the lawmaker said.

    In 2013, Meralco became the number one company in terms of profits with P17 billion estimated earnings.

    Meanwhile, Zarate said that the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act
    (Epira) should be repealed as it gave no benefit to the public since its passage in 2001.

    “It would be more logical to repeal Epira now and return the power industry to a fully regulated regime,” Zarate said.

    The controversial policy apparently did not alleviate power rates in the country. A study by Ibon Foundation and other militant organizations published in 2011 showed that since the law was implemented, Meralco rates have increased by more than 112 percent.

    Betrayal?

    The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) virtually betrayed the people when it asked to be excused from justifying Meralco’s P4.15 per kilowatt hour power rate hike, an increase the government had approved and which would have been the highest power rate hike in Philippine history.

    Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas City, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, expressed such sentiments a day after the Supreme Court denied OSG’s motion seeking to be excused from filing comments on behalf of state-run Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the DOE on the petition vs. Meralco’s P4.15 per kilowatt hour power rate hike that the ERC approved but was later stayed by the High Court via a TRO.

    In its motion denied by the High Court, the OSG argued that it is the ERC and the DOE, which should defend Meralco’s move.

    “The OSG abandoned its mandate to respond in behalf of the ERC and the DOE on the petitions vs. the Meralco rate hike when it asked to be excused. I cannot understand the legal step taken by the OSG, considering that before the petition was lodged against the Meralco rate hike, the government said they can’t do anything about it,” Barzaga, a member of the National Unity party allied with President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s ruling Liberal Party, stressed.

    The denial of OSG’s move resulted in the Supreme Court ordering the OSG to file and serve a comment on the petitions on or before January 17 by personal service and attend the initial preliminary conference on January 13.

    “It is the mandate of the OSG as government representative to explain why the ERC and the Department of Energy allowed the very high power rate adjustments of Meralco. Aren’t they [OSG officials] convinced by the actions taken by ERC and DOE in allowing Meralco to impose huge electricity rate increase?” Barzaga added.

    With report from Llanesca Panti

    Share.
    loading...
    Loading...

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    8 Comments

    1. Ako po ay isang OFW na involved sa Oil & Gas Industry and Energy Power Industries. We worked with big EPIC project all over the world. Currently i am working with one of the largest international Engineering Consulting firm involved in Energy Power industry, Oil & Gas such as Lequitied Natural Gas (LNG), Gas To Liquid (GTL), Refineries, Petrochemical and Power Plants. My comment on this Meralco power hike, their reason was because Malampaya Shut Down for mentainance or upgrading purposes. Ano ang relasyon ng Meralco sa Shutdown ng Malampaya, hindi naman sila ang gumastos to whatever expenses the Malampaya incurred. Hindi pa naman naningil ang Malampaya sa mga power producers company at ang Power producers ay hindi pa naman naningil sa Meralco. Papano ginawa ng Meralco ang canilang computation para maningil ng ganitong laki ng rate sa mga Consumers? malaking panloloko ng Meralco ito at sabwatan ng DOE, ERC at ang Gobyerno. Kaya ang Collusion na pinagdedebatehan ngayon ay hindi lang sa Independent Power distributor kundi nagugat sa mga Capitalista sa pangunguna ng Meralco, ERC, DOE at Gobyerno. Sa kadahilanan na malapit na naman ang Summer at history na sa Pilipinas ginagamit para magkaroon na naman ng Brow-outs. Ay naku alam na ng taong bayan ang kalokohan ng mga Capitalista at Gobyerno.
      Ako’y nag papasalamat sa mga namuno na mga Conresista at mga private sectors na tumulisga sa issue na ito. Sana naman ang mga nasa Gobyerno na dapat pigilan ito ay kalimutan muna ninyo ang Commissions ninyo sa mga mapagsamantalang Capitalista. Hindi ninyo madadala ito sa inyong hukay.

      Salamat,

    2. I still have to hear what is the stand of this clueless (?) president on this issue. He seems to delight himself in the sidelines while watching the people in endless tussles like roosters in a cockfight, or he just cannot openly admit that he does not want to disappoint his rich benefactors.

    3. Magaling pero tangang maulitika itong Coloma na ito, akala niya lahat maloloko niya – nagsalita na sila na dapat lang at may dahilan ang pagtataas ng mga bata ni Abnoy Aquino.

    4. So MERALCO is now threatening us of rotating brownouts while Aboitiz is at the helm of an Association of power suppliers. The general public should be reminded that an Aboitiz once headed the Dept of Energy during the horrible presidency of another Aquino and the result – an artificial eight hour daily rotating brownouts in order to justify the sales of his Electric Generators. It seems that the wicked vestiges of Darkness are rearing again its ugly head and this is courtesy of the Mother and Son Aquino cursed presidency. Maybe MERALCO is no longer afraid of a possible backlash if the marginalized consumers are exploited heavily.

    5. Threatening blackouts to force the consumers to accept the unconscionable power rake hike is economic sabotage. The government should immediately take over the operation of the power companies and charged those responsible and put them in jail. However, since Pnoy said the power rate hikes was reasonable, no help is coming from this administration.

    6. apolonio reyes on

      SAAN KAYA HINUHUGOT NG MERALCO AT PATI MAYNILAD ANG KAPAKAPAL NG MGA MUKHA NA TAKUTIN LAHAT NG MGA CONSUMERS NA MAGKAKARON NG MALAWAKAN BROWN OUT KUNDI TANGALIN NG SC AND TRO. NANINIWALA NA AKO KAY MR. JAVELLANA NG WARN NA NAGBIGAYSI MVP SA CAMPAIGN FUND NG P300M KAY PNOY NUON 2010 ELECTION KAYA SUKLI LANG NG MALACANANG ITO KAY MVP KAYA KAPAL MUKS, DI BA SIR?

    7. Simon Benigno Arroyo on

      If Meralco can not execute their responsibility to provide electricity, the government can take over the operation and if found they intentionally execute the brown out, then Meralco is liable of economic sabotage.
      Canada, Australia, UK and some EU countries does not allow certain business or operation to private, because they can control the economy and government. These are company comprise of power, insurance, health care (incl. hospital) and transportation.

    8. Good luck to the Phl. We all know Meralco and the power industry players are deeply entrenched n Malacanang. Oligarchs, KKK, cronies are Abnoy’s besties.