By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has blasted Manny V. Pangilinan’s Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) for its failure to comply with its supposed commitments to resolve complaints of power consumers over unexplained high electricity rates during the Luzon lockdown.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, said there is an urgent need to investigate the issue of bill shock that continues to hound many electric consumers, especially of that in the Pangilinan-led power distribution firm.
According to Gatchalian, the Senate energy panel has received over 200 complaints on the bill shock, prompting him to immediately send a letter to Meralco imploring the public utility to explain and provide a status report on its compliance with its commitment to the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) as well as an explanation and action plan to address the bill shock.
During the JCEC hearing last May, the Pangilinan group vowed to send “very specific letters” to consumers explaining the electricity bills—whether there is an overestimation or underestimation in the computation.
However, Gatchalian stressed that based on a review of 29 bills for the May 2020 billing period, it shows 19 bills lack clear explanation on the computation of the current billing period and if there are adjustments carried over from the March and April 2020 billing period.
“Noong huling pagdinig namin, talagang mahigpit na sinabi namin na importante na maintidihan ng tao kung ano yung binabayaran nila, basic yan. Gustong magbayad ng tao pero gusto nilang maintindihan kung paano binabasa at kino-compute ang aktuwal na gamit nila ng kuryente. Pero napakahirap intindihin ng eksplanasyon ng Meralco,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian also noted that aside from this, 28 bills for the June 2020 billing period indicate that 16 do not have an explanation and some do not show the monthly consumption from April to June but only indicate the total consumption for three months.
Meralco also made a commitment to the JCEC to undertake continuous consumer education on bills covering the period of the community quarantine.
“Hangga’t hindi malinaw ang eksplanasyon ng Meralco ay wag munang maningil. Paano magbabayad ang mga tao kung hindi nila naiintidihan ang kanilang binabayaran,” he stressed.