Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Monday urged the Manila Electric Co. or Meralco and other power companies to immediately employ corrective measures and adjustments in the billing statements of their consumers and help ease their anxieties during these tough times brought about by the COVID-19 crisis.
Go, speaking at the public hearing of the Senate committee on energy chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, made the call as senators once again tackle the electricity bill shock experienced by electricity consumers.
“Siguraduhin po natin na naaayon sa batas ang patakarang sinusunod. At kung may mali, i-tama dapat nila sa lalong madaling panahon. Dapat gawan ng corrective measures o adjustments sa billing kaagad (Let’s make sure that we follow the law. And if there is something wrong, we should correct it as soon as possible, corrective measures or adjustments in the billing should be immediately done),” Go said during the virtual hearing.
“Now more than ever, profits should not be prioritized over the welfare of the general public. The government should not tolerate any unfair business practices at a time when people’s lives are at risk,” Go said.
Go also appealed for the cooperation of power distribution utilities to help the government in addressing the concerns of the public over the high cost of electricity in the past three to four months considering that Metro Manila and other cities are under lockdown due to the pandemic.
“I am likewise, calling on distribution utilities, not just in Metro Manila, but also in other areas such as in Olongapo, Camiguin po, maraming nagrereklamo rin po, and Zamboanga, where there have been reports of a significant rise in customer bills, to do everything within their power to ease the people’s anxiety and relieve them of the burden they are facing during these trying times,” the administration senator pointed out.
“To all distribution utilities, alam kong mahalaga sa inyo ang kumita upang magpatuloy ang inyong negosyo at pagseserbisyo. Ngunit balansehin po natin, pera lang naman ‘yan, hindi ninyo madadala sa kabilang buhay ‘yan (I know that profit is important to you now to be able to continue your business and service. But please let’s balance it, that’s only money, you can’t bring that with you in the next life),” he further stressed.
“Let us always prioritize our people over profits…let us all help each other. And may we come out of this health crisis together and no one is left behind,” he said.
Nevertheless, Go thanked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for supporting power consumers in their plight.
He noted that the ERC has required a staggered payment scheme for the months where no actual meter reading was possible and for the month of June.
ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera told senators they are now swamped with at least 47,000 complaints of power consumers who were shocked at the whooping amount they need to pay Meralco.
“I want to emphasize that the ordinary Filipino citizen is at the heart of the businesses of our power distribution utilities. I am also asking our distribution utilities to go over and above what is necessary to relieve the panic and anxiety of the Filipino consumers in this time of pandemic,” Go stressed.