REPEAL EPIRA, REVOKE THE MERALCO FRANCHISEAND PUT THE POWER INDUSTRY UNDER PUBLIC CONTROLfor a more enduring and wholistic solution

 

The other day voices were raised from the House of Representatives asking for an emergency solution to the failure of the privatized power industry to provide affordable and secure supply of electricity to our country.

 


One voice – Samar Rep. Ben Evardone calls for emergency powers to be granted the President to enable him to fast track the construction of more power generation plants. The other voice – Kabataan partylist Rep. Terry Ridon is for the takeover by the State of the power utilities and generation companies.


We see these moves by two of our legislators as motivated by the need for radical responses to a dead-end situation for EPIRA, the law that privatized the power industry. They also serve to exact effective action from  President Aquino whose much vaunted presidential powers have been employed in some other cases but which he  evades to use in this case.  However, both proposals are of emergency character only,conditioned by a declaration of a state of emergency -meaning temporary, and which will give the corporate powers  allowance to fix their mess and privatization a new lease on life.


EPIRA is a massive failure and the whole problem calls for a much more radical and comprehensive solution:  REPEAL EPIRA AND PUT THE POWER INDUSTRY UNDER EFFECTIVE PUBLIC CONTROL.  Electricity is a basic human and social need which invests the power industry with a strong public interest.  Only public control  can assure that public welfare is put above profits and planning directs its development rather than market mechanisms.
Of course, when we say public control it is not the governmental monopoly –NAPOCOR  - we experienced under the Marcos dictatorship which resulted to corruption, wastage and unending indebtedness.  Learning from the past and considering present circumstances, public control should mean 
   •Dismantling private monopolies in power generation and  distribution

   •Reintroducing the state as owner and player in power   generation and distribution along with the social  sector- the      cooperatives

   •Renationalizing the transmission sector 

   •State planning of the power industry  which shall also   harness private capital  to contribute, not to dominate  the              power industry


The call should be addressed to Congress and the President who should exercise leadership in overturning the damage to the economy and the living conditions of our people caused by EPIRA.

The dead-end for EPIRA is so manifestly exposed by the scandalous record-high MERALCO power rate hike last month, December 2013.  All its promises for affordable and secure supply of electricity are blown out of the window.  All it can show is the opposite of what it promises.


•There is no end to electricity rate hike.  As admitted  by the Department of Energy before the Senate hearing   last month, they see no trend of a lowering of electric bills in 2014 – 2016.

•Instead of a robust market competition, the power   industry is now•a captive of corporate monopolies – 3 in the generation   sector (Lopez, Aboitiz and San  Miguel), one in the  transmission sector (Henry Sy) and 1, rampant MERALCO,  lording it over in Luzon.   Predatory monopoly pricing,   corporate gaming in the Wholesale Electricity Spot  Market  (WESM ), and rampant violations  of even the  EPIRA itself are the bitter results of this  monopolization.

•WESM itself is exposed as a contrived market, a farce of  a competition, with only three big corporate combines –   Lopez,Aboitiz and San Miguel setting the price , and   with MERALCO Playingthe  role of a buyer and seller of   electricity at the same time thus  influencing the WESM  settlement price

•The Energy Regulatory Commission has been exposed more   than ever not only as a good-for-nothing regulatory   agency but as a captive of the corporate giants in the  power industry

•The Department of Industry cannot be relied upon to plan  the power supply requirements of the country to ensure a  stable supply at affordable rates and to police like the  ERC anti-competitive practices.

•And MERALCO never had it so good with P17- 18 billion   yearly profits while millions of consumers have to pay    more or cut their electricity needs and dampening   business from small to big. This is on top of a long  list of corporate malpractices that make a mockery even  of EPIRA.   

There are more than  enough reasons to question and revoke the legislative franchise of MERALCO and put it under public control where transparency, accountability and public participation are ensured unlike the State takeover of MERALCO by the Marcos dictatorship.

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