Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday thanked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for its commitment to enforce the “no disconnection” policy among power distributors to ensure Filipino families will experience continuous electricity supply during Christmas even with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ERC, during a Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Energy (DOE), reported that power distributors like Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) are set to relax their deadlines for issuing notices of disconnection to families unable to fully pay their power bills.
“Huwag nating ipagkait sa mga kababayan natin ang simpleng kasiyahan na inaasahan nila ngayong Pasko at Bagong Taon. Magkaroon po tayo ng awa sa mga pamilyang nahihirapan lalo na ngayong marami ang nawalan ng trabaho at negosyo. (Let’s help our fellowmen enjoy a simple celebration this Christmas and New Year. Let’s take pity on the families who are having a hard time since most of them lost their jobs and businesses),” Hontiveros said.
“Sana po ay wala munang magpuputol ng kuryente at magbibigay ng disconnection notice hanggang katapusan ng taon, (I hope no one will experience having their electricity cut off or will be given a disconnection notice until the end of this year),” she said.
ERC chair Agnes Devanadera said the agency will see to it that Meralco and other power distributors will be lenient and give families up until the end of the year to settle their electricity bills following the guidelines set by the ERC and the provisions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.
Under the said law, utility companies are required to give another 30-day grace period, at the minimum, for consumers during the pandemic.
Only after the grace period expires will consumers be allowed to settle their pending bills on a staggered basis.
“Natutuwa akong marinig ang commitment na ito mula sa ERC at aasahan ko ang agaran nilang aksyon (I’m happy to hear this commitment from the ERC and I expect their immediate action on this),” the senator said.
“We expect that this initial commitment will turn into concrete action. Ito ay maagang Pamasko sa ating mga kababayan na humihiling pa ng kaunting panahon para tuluyang mabayaran ng buo ang kanilang bills, (This is an early Christmas for our people who have asked for some extension so they can pay their bills in full),” she said.