Gatchalian tells Meralco to pay P19-M fine

Published August 30, 2020, 3:27 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian urged the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) Sunday not to contest the order of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and just settle the P19-million penalty the agency has ordered them to pay.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

As far as he is concerned, Gatchalian said he finds the ERC’s order against Meralco “very reasonable” as he believes that the distribution utility truly violated advisories that were supposed to provide guidelines for customers during the COVID-19 lockdown periods.

In its Aug. 20 order, the ERC slapped penalties against Meralco for failure to clearly indicate how electricity bills were computed and for its failure to comply with the mandated installment payment arrangement resulting to a “bill shock” among power consumers.

“Ang payo ko sa kanila huwag na nilang ilaban, kasi para sa akin ito ay isang risonableng pagmumulta sa kanila (My advise to them is not to fight the penalty, because I think, the penalties were reasonable),” Gatchalian said in an interview over GMANewsTV.

“Kapag lumaban sla i-aadvise natin sa ERC na taasan nila at maghanap pa ng ibang paraan para ma-penalize sila (If they fight this, we will advise the ERC to increase the penalty and find other ways to penalize them),” said the senator who chairs the Senate energy committee.

Gatchalian was among the lawmakers who earlier complained against Meralco for having experienced electricity bill shock.

He also said Meralco and other public utilities should keep in mind that Congress is responsible for granting them franchises which can be revoked if they refuse to shape up and help in the government’s efforts to ease consumer woes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.