Meralco cuts rates to 2-year low | Inquirer Business

Meralco cuts rates to 2-year low

2 consecutive months of reductions totaling P1 a kWh
/ 05:10 AM February 07, 2020

I continue to read up on news about the novel coronavirus (NCoV) and its impact in China. It used to be just Wuhan but it has spread widely by now – the infection, the panic, the lockdown of cities and the self-quarantine of residents. Countries and international trade are adversely affected. It is not just China’s loss but others, too, who have been expecting Chinese products for all kinds of personal and commercial use. One virus with its expanding disruption of normal life presents me one truth – that man’s modernity and advancing technology are still way behind the power of nature to inflict in a massive scale.

Who would think that the aborted volcanic eruption of Taal could wreak havoc in Southern Luzon and Metro Manila? Just hours of ashfall and towns are paralyzed, hundreds of thousands displaced, properties and crops damaged, and face masks run out of stock. Imagine the giant, China, on whose whim the Philippines can grow smaller by losing an island or two, currently appears helpless in containing NCoV. Several cities are on lockdown mode, literally paralyzing more than 50 million residents. And it is not over as the virus threatens more areas, infects more people, and kills by the day. Its kill rate may be low, but China has 1.7 billion people and every 1% translates 17 million human beings.

News is now surfacing that doctors from Wuhan had been sounding the alarm as far back as December, about how several patients were experiencing severe, rapid breakdowns of the respiratory system. As a consequence of their action to raise awareness about a serious medical threat, they were arrested and on January 1, legal measures were taken against them for allegedly spreading “false rumors” (we term it “fake news” over here). It seemed that their local government units were more concerned about containing bad news that could affect their political interests rather than pursue and investigate what the doctors were complaining about. Today, China and the rest of the world is paying a steep price for that official paranoia.


As I write this article before my submission deadline, word around the world says that over 24,500 people have been infected, nearly 500 have died, and no end is in sight. By the time people read this on Friday, the numbers of the infected and the death toll would be substantially higher. The total focus of governments and the medical profession should be on solutions and prevention. Clearly, it should not be on investigating alleged rumors and fake news. The fight is not between one political faction versus another. The fight is not even about criticism or applause. The fight is about one deadly virus versus humanity.


What is it about officialdom that fears criticism and censure more than sickness and death? I know that one’s career and reputation can be the most important to a person, but I question this priority for public officials and employees. I believe that the law itself requires public officers and employees to put the public good ahead of one’s own. Or is public service not seen as that anymore, that it is now first and foremost a stepladder to one’s own vested interest?

An insecure public is naturally prone to accepting fake news as possibly true. When it means sickness or health, life or death, to someone and his or her family and there is more confusion than clarity in the air, those who are responsible for public safety or health must be actively pro-active. In China’s case, as far back as in December of last year, when some doctors in Wuhan openly gave warnings about a serious threat to the respiratory system, they were not met only with skepticism – they were arrested, warned not to give false rumors, then released. Of course, they kept quiet after that and turned into silenced witnesses as the NCoV broke out into a harsh epidemic.


However reluctant China was in December 2019 turned to a complete reversal by mid-January. In fact, while our government was deliberating how far it could go in restricting inbound travelers from China from entry to the Philippines, China was outdoing itself in containing movement in their provinces and cities. We are getting almost hourly international reports about the growing infection and death count, yet the kill rate of the NCoV is well below 2%. The almost desperate action of the Chinese government in their internal lockdown move indicates that their fears are far beyond the reported kill rate of NCoV. What is it that the Chinese authorities know that we do not? What is that they know that is pushing them to an all-out war footing against the NCoV but obviously our authorities do not from our rather tentative moves.

The combined resources of government must be focused on preventing the spread of the NCoV and a massive information drive, complete with easily understood and implementable guidelines to the public are in order. If earthquake drills are regularly conducted for the “big one” whose schedule is undetermined, there cannot be any less effort to teach the public about preventive measures against an already aggressive NCoV.

At the same time, if bad news that is not fake news is withheld from an already insecure public that is doing its best to stay wired to developments in China, now would be the worst time to discourage total transparency. The intent of the government must be the total protection against a virus whose containment and treatment remain relatively unknown. That is a serious challenge but government has no choice but to do its best and to handhold a fearful public. The Filipino people and the Philippine government must take this delicate journey together, not against each other. The path forward is cooperation, not investigation. The methodology is instructional, not legal.

Fake news thrives in an environment of fear and dissipates in an environment of bayanihan. Remember Taal and how joined forces to help one another. That is the only way forward.

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TAGS: Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)

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