Consumers hail ERC order to defer disconnection of nonpaying Meralco customers
MANILA — Meralco consumers, led by the Power for People Coalition(P4P), on Wednesday hailed the declaration of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to postpone the disconnection of nonpaying customers until the end of the year.
P4P led a mass mobilization of Meralco consumers the previous week which saw actions simultaneously staged in front of the distribution utility’s offices across the metropolis and surrounding provinces.
“We are grateful that clamor of Meralco’s long-suffering residential consumers delivered results in the form of Senator Risa Hontiveros’ question and the ERC’s answer. Once ERC delivers on its promise, it would give breathing space to all Filipinos who have to worry about their electric bills even as they battle the pandemic, online schooling for their children, and possible loss of their livelihoods,” said Gerry Arances, P4P Convenor.
“But of course, this is just the first step in dealing with the true issue: Meralco’s continuous overpricing and unfair billing practices,” Arances added.
P4P is currently conducting an online petition campaign called #TigilBayad, which seeks a moratorium on payment for bills issued during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until after demands for fair electricity rates, a more flexible payment scheme, a return of all pending refunds, reforms in Meralco billing practices, and an independent audit of the distribution utility have been met.
“There is an opportunity here to correct the wrongs that Meralco has done to consumers over the years. Meralco claims that generation companies are to blame for high electricity prices, even blaming the price of coal, but they are the ones who continuously insist on coal-based electricity and even invest directly in coal,” said Arances.
The energy consumer advocates are calling for the return of ₱28.5 billion in bill and meter deposits which are held by Meralco and the immediate return of ₱19 billion in unreturned funds from the 2003 refund order of the Supreme Court.