- Get Involved
Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
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.