#StrikeTheHike and Bayan Metro Manila warned the Aquino administration that once the power rate is implemented, it might cause the social volcano to erupt.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Members of consumers group, #StrikeTheHike Network and umbrella organization Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Metro Manila (Bayan-Metro Manila), stormed the Sampaloc branch of Meralco on January 20 to slam what they call as ‘blackmailing tactic’ of the power corporation to get its desired increase in electricity rates by P4.15/kwh.
The groups are also set to hold a lights-off protest in a community in Sampaloc, Manila. They dubbed it as “Black-Out vs. Meralco Blackmail,” a reminder this Monday evening of the upcoming oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the power rate hike on Tuesday January 21. Another black-out protest is set at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
After the Supreme Court issued a 60-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the said proposed power rate hike last December, Meralco threatened that there will be rotational blackouts because it “can no longer pay generation and transmission charges.” The threat was met by public skepticism, the #StrikeTheHike Network and Bayan Metro Manila said Meralco is clearly “blackmailing” consumers. The groups pointed out that Meralco should not be allowed to get away with such an excuse given that it earned profits amounting to P17 billion ($377 million) in 2013 alone.
“Clearly, Meralco is hell-bent and desperate to extract more profits from its consumers to the extent that it will threaten us of massive blackouts. President Aquino must do something significant to permanently junk the power rate hike proposal of Meralco and stop its looming rotational blackouts threat,” said Jinky Panganiban, spokesman of #StrikeTheHike Network.
“If the Aquino government is really sincere in wanting to lessen the price of electricity, it is high time for the State to take full control of the power industry and to nationalize it so we could enjoy low electricity rates,” Panganiban added. The groups dared President Aquino to be decisive in standing for the interests of the people and not to collaborate with the profit-seeking Lopezes, Aboitiz, Pangilinan and other big businesses involved in power generation and distribution.
#StrikeTheHike and Bayan Metro Manila warned the Aquino administration that once the power rate is implemented, it might cause the social volcano to erupt. They said it is already building up with the steady rise in prices of other basic commodities and services under Aquino’s rule. They said a series of protests and mass actions will be held if BS Aquino refuses to heed to the mounting opposition of the people to price surges.
Aside from mass actions today, a bigger protest action is set for today, in front of the Supreme Court and different Meralco branches, in time for the SC oral arguments on the restrained rate hike. Workers and youth group Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakbayan are set also to spearhead amassive blackout protest at 7 p.m. today.