7 July 2010
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) power rate hike of 5.8 centavos per kilowatt-hour for this month, saying consumers want an end to the “roller-coaster” pricing of Meralco which is suspect of price manipulation.
In April, Lopez-owned Meralco hiked its power rates by P1.20 per kWh amid rotating brownouts. After drawing protests and complaints, it announced a reduction of as much as P1.26 kWh in May. Now it has moved again to burden consumers with an additional charge, passing the blame to independent power producers (IPPs) which are actually linked to Meralco.
Two of Meralco’s IPP sources, the 1,000-megawatt Sta. Rita and 500-W San Lorenzo natural gas plants, are both owned by Lopez-led First Gas Corp.
“The latest power rate hike by Meralco is another unjust burden being passed on to the shoulders of consumers, a reflection of how the power distributor firm plays with the electricity bills of 4.7 Filipinos through its ‘roller-coaster’ pricing,” said Joselito “Lito” Ustatez.
“Meralco is yet again drawing the ire of more Filipinos through its Mafia-like operations. This up-and-down pricing scheme should be stopped. Workers and the people want stable and low electricity bills,” he added.
KMU also slammed the impending nationwide power rate hikes by the National Power Corp. (Napocor), which recently petitioned the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for an increase of 62.51 centavos per kWh in Luzon, 9.73 centavos per kWh in the Visayas, and 11.22 centavos per kWh in Mindanao.
“These barrage of power rate hikes are simply unbearable to millions of Filipinos who have not received any significant raise in wages for decades. The ERC should heed the people’s clamor and junk Napocor’s petition,” Ustarez said.
The labor leader said the erratic pricing of power in the country should push President Noynoy Aquino to order the repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, one of the first anti-people measures which Arroyo implemented in her first year as president.
EPIRA privatized the whole power sector, giving corporations a free hand in dictating power rates to consumers.
“Now is the time for President Aquino to prove that the people is his boss. He should heed the workers and the people’s clamor to stop the highly erratic and unjust pricing of electricity in the country by junking EPIRA.
“He should also stop private companies’ profiteering schemes on electricity, a basic social service that should be made accessible by the government to all,” Ustarez said. (Bulatlat.com)