Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Zenaida Ducut must go.  But Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) asks: why only Ducut?  ERC is a collegial body and its decision to go along with the record-high P4.15 kwh MERALCO rate hike without seriously and diligently inquiring into its basis makes the ERC as a body and all commissioners for that matter responsible and accountable. What the ERC needs at the moment is a TOTAL REVAMP.  In their place, persons of probity, integrity and competence, including a legitimate representative from the consumers should be appointed.


Chair Ducut’s defense line that what the ERC approved was the clearance sought by MERALCO on December 9, 2013 to stagger its P4.15 price hike and NOT the price hike itself which she argued as  authorized under the automatic generation rate adjustment of ERC rules is a PALUSOT- a lame and dishonest excuse.  Showing no compunction and concern for the millions of working and other hard-up families as well as for the negative impact of one of the highest electricity rates in the world on our economy as a whole, ERC merely accepted the MERALCO decision without diligently looking into the many determinants of a price increase as required of it as the main regulatory body of the power industry of the country.

ERC did not even inquire why MERALCO had no power replacement provision in Its Power Supply Agreements with its power suppliers, why the so-called forced outages by generation companies were charged to the consumers and not to their insurance claims, why MERALCO even sold power it contracted with Aboitiz’ Therma Mobile to WESM when it was claiming a supply shortage, and why it did not close down WESM operations when prices in the November-December 2013 period were scaling to the maximum of P62 per kwh.


The Department of Energy(DOE) announced during the House Energy Committee hearing last month, December 2013, that it had been investigating the Meralco rate hike and that the findings would be made public on December 30, 2013.  However, early this month, DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla declared that the DOE had passed on the investigation work to the ERC.  Why ERC when ERC should be among the government agencies that should be investigated ? During the second Senate Energy Committee hearing last December 23,  ERC Chair Ducut said that they would need another three months to do their own investigation. Meanwhile, MERALCO is again poised to ask for another power rate hike once the Supreme Court TRO is lifted in the third week of February. 


FDC welcomes the Senate Resolutions calling for a review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) which privatized the power industry of the country.  It is the right step to take in finding a real and durable solution to the failure of the privatized power industry and the big monopolies controlling it to provide our country and people a secure,  quality, affordable and clean energy and end the heavy burdens on our long suffering fellow consumers.  We call on the House Energy Committee and the House and the Senate as a whole to undertake this review and get the involvement of the consumers, the academe and the professions in this.

FDC rejects proposals coming from Malacanang, DOE Secretary Petilla and some members of Congress to use the Malampaya funds to cover for the Meralco price hike.  FDC President Ricardo B. Reyes denounced this move in an earlier statement :  This in effect will subsidize MERALCO’s superprofits , not the consumers, who together with the entire Filipino people own Malampaya and who alone should benefit from royalties and other earnings which compose the Malampaya Fund. 

January 25, 2014

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