JOINT PRESS RELEASE
09 December 2013
Militants hits Meralco and ERC collusion,
Protest Caravan Launched
MILITANTS belonging to Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) once again took to the streets to reiterate that the P4.15/kwh increase in electricity rates of power firm Meralco is an unjust burden to millions of Filipinos who have not yet recuperated from the calamities that hit the country in the past months.
“With no significant wage increase since 2010 and only contractual jobs available, the living conditions of workers are already wretched as it is. Once implemented, Meralco and the power producers shall only rob our families’ meager budget for noche buena just to satisfy their insatiable appetite for profit. Exacerbating our situation will only push the workers to desperation and eventually revolt,” said BMP leader, Gie Relova.
The groups held a protest caravan and held protests at Meralco branches in Caloocan City, Quezon City and Manila. The protest caravan culminated at the office of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in Pasig City, in time for the deliberations of the commission on the Meralco rate hike petition.
The BMP and KPML speakers took turns in lambasting both Meralco and the ERC, in what they claimed was collusion between a power distribution monopoly and the agency tasked to “regulate” electricity prices in an already deregulated power industry.
Relova pointed out that, “Not even once since its onset did the ERC favor the interests of the people over the vulture-like Meralco. This agency is as lame as a duck, designed to deceive and provide the notion that the government is working for the electricity consumers’ welfare”.
The ERC was created upon the enactment of the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act in 1999 to ensure transparent and reasonable prices of electricity in a regime of free and fair competition and full public accountability. Also part of its mandate is to establish a strong and purely independent regulatory body and system to ensure consumer protection.
“Malacanang and the Department of Energy cannot claim impartiality and act as if they have done anything and everything when all they have done is appeal to the management of Meralco by pathetically citing its corporate social responsibility. If the national government is truly sincere in protecting the interests of the multitude, then it should suspend the collection of value-added tax (VAT) pending the normalization of the operations at the Malampaya gas field to decrease the hike’s impacts,” Relova proposed.
Meanwhile KPML spokesperson Anthony Barnedo demanded from government authorities the full disclosure and utilization of the Malampaya funds since the Supreme Court (SC) recently decreed that its sole purpose was for the electrification of the countryside.
“The SC decision must be implemented to the letter. The revenues sourced from the Malampaya gas field must be utilized for the rehabilitation of the power plants and transmission lines struck by Yolanda and not from the pockets of the Meralco consumers,” Barnedo asserted.###
Gie Relova - BMP-NCRR, Secretary-General