UNLIKE Malacañang, Senate President pro-tempore Ralph Recto is more positive towards finding ways to help lower power rates in the country and it can be done through the use of existing funds intended for the country’s power concerns.
Recto was referring to his proposal to put the Malampaya gas project fund to proper use particularly in paying the debts of the National Power Corp. (NPC) that are currently being passed on to consumers.
Instead of using the Malampaya Fund to finance non-energy related programs and projects of national government agencies, his proposal could directly benefit power consumers, according to Recto.
Senate Bill 465, which was filed by Recto, is aimed at addressing the country’s high power rates and at the same time have the use of the funds made transparent by including it on the general appropriations act (GAA).
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Wednesday admitted that the government is helpless in preventing the looming electricity rate increase and the rise of oil products in the country because prices are dictated by the law of supply and demand.
The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is set to impose a rate increase of P2.50 to as high as P3 per kilowatt-hour this month, while fuel prices particularly liquefied petroleum gas increased by at least P14.00 per kilogram.
Recto wants to allocate the net national government share from the Malampaya Project to pay the NPC’s Stranded Contract Costs (SCC) and Stranded Debts portion of the Universal Charge (UC).
Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, a UC will be imposed on all electricity end-users to cover payment of NPC’s stranded debt and stranded contract costs.
If enacted, Recto said that the proposal would provide substantial relief to power consumers in the light of looming power rate increase.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito blasted the ‘triple whammy’ price hike on power diesel and LPG, which he said is an additional burden to Filipinos this holiday season.
“It is unfortunate that the ‘Pamaskong Handog’ of oil and power companies to consumers is a hefty price hike and not extending benevolence to Pinoys,” he said.
Ejercito called on the public to assert their rights as consumers by refusing to shoulder the maintenance expenses being passed on to them by energy distributors.
He noted that the Meralco rate increase of P3 per kilowatt hour would translate to an additional P600 in the electric bill of a household that consumes 200 kilowatts.
“We should remain vigilant and firm against the skyrocketing costs these companies impose on their products,” he said.