FDC warns gov't investigations may exculpate Meralco, even lead to subsidizing Meralco's superprofits
The Freedom from Debt Coalition(FDC) goes on its third day of its Tatakan/Sulatan ng GANID the MERALCO bills protest activity today at 10 am before the MERALCO Kamuning, Quezon City Branch.
FDC is calling on all consumers to express their outrage over the new power rate hike by writing or stamping on their MERALCO bills the word GANID (Greed to Express Corporate Greed). FDC also joins the initiative to wage a protest online through social media.
FDC welcomes the investigations by both houses of Congress into the highest MERALCO power rate hike so far but also warns of a trend in the ongoing official discussions on the issue to exculpate MERALCO and focus the inquiry only into the possible collusion by the major power plants in Luzon which went on almost simultaneous shutdowns along with the Malampaya maintenance shutdown this November-December period.
FDC also calls on the public to be especially critical of proposals coming from Malacanang and Congress to use the Malampaya fund to cover the new price increases. "This in effect will subsidize MERALCO's superprofits, not the consumers, who together with the entire Filipino people own Malampaya and who alone should benefit from royalties and other earnings which compose the Malampaya Fund," said Ricardo B. Reyes, FDC President.
Reyes also added that "MERALCO has not yet leveled even with the House Energy Committee hearing as to why the cost accruing from the Malampaya maintenance shutdown which is scheduled is not built into the power cost and the power rate in its Power Supply Agreement (PSA) with the natural gas power plants. Without this, MERALCO contracted imprudently and must bear the additional cost, not the consumers. It is interesting to note that trhe MERA:CO CEO, Oscar Reyes, failed to provide a clear answer when asked about this during yesterday's House hearing which FDC attended."
FDC said that the Congressional investigations are important because both the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Malacanang are now both compromised by their hasty acquiescence to the MERALCO decision. The ERC gave its go signal to the electricity price hike immediately after the MERALCO announcement without so much as conducting a public consultation, let alone a public hearing, although public interest is very much at stake here. Malacanang, through Presidential Spokesperson Sonny Coloma, also immediately justified MERALCO's moves as "reasonable" while Department of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla went out of his way to suggest that MERALCO stagger their price hike instead of finding ways to avert it. Such behavior seriously undermined the on-going DOE investigation into the power rate hike.