By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Bayan Muna party-list group on Thursday scored the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) of businessman Manny V. Pangilinan for imposing a power rate hike for the month of April amid the current crisis brought by the COVID-19 virus.
Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares said Meralco customers should not be charged high electricity considering the lower generation charges for the month of April.
Meralco earlier announced rates inched up to P8.9951 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the billing statement this April from P8.8901/kWh in March, attributing it to the normalization of the universal charge rate.
Colmenares stressed the Pangilinan-led firm has no reason to impose the additional P0.105/kWh on its April bill since the company’s net income from January to March 2020 “increased to P 5.7 Billion.”
With that amount of revenues, Colmenares said Meralco “can afford to condone electricity rates on the people hard hit by the crisis.”
“Kung bumaba ang binabayaran ng Meralco sa generation dahil sa force majeur, dapat may benepisyo dito ang taong bayan lalo na mga mahihirap,” said Colmenares.
According the Colmenares, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should investigate the profit-driven action of Pangilinan’s company despite lower generation charges.
“Meralco has billions more in capital and profit than these electric cooperatives but it does not have the heart for its consumers who have long been the source of its profits,” said Colmenares.
“Dapat imbestigahan ng ERC kung naka benipisyo ang mga consumers sa pagbaba ng bayarin ng Meralco sa generation charge at bakit hindi bumaba singil sa consumers,” he added.
Colmenares said “it is quite ironic that the supposed small time electric cooperatives are the ones stepping up and are willing to waive the one-month electricity bill of the poorest or lifeline consumers.”
“Kung hindi nagbabayad ng buo ang Meralco sa mga kontrata nya sa Gencos dahil sa COVID, bakit buo pa rin ang sisingilin nya sa consumers? Nagtaas pa sya ng singil nitong April,” he said.