13 May 2003
That is how the Freedom from Debt Coalition calls the ERC decision adopting Meralco’s proposal to refund those consuming at least 100kWh with outright cash in June.
The ERC decision shut down other proposals of consumer groups. It did not consider other options that could best serve consumer interests. The purported “independent” agency adopted the Meralco proposal without even considering the inputs of FDC and other consumer groups.
The “public consultation” held on May 09 (Friday) proved to be a mere formality that gave the ERC decision a sense of legitimacy. FDC received information that in a Cabinet meeting days before the “consultation,” the President declared her preference to refund those consuming 100kWh and less with outright cash.
A day before the “public consultation,” the ERC and Meralco held a meeting to discuss the mode of refund.
On May 12 (Monday), the ERC announced it would be adopting the Meralco refund proposal. The collusion among Malacañang, the ERC, and Meralco is obvious. The ERC decision has been determined by private interests, not by the public good.
Though outright cash refund presents an immediate relief for consumers, it does not empower consumers to take part in Meralco’s policy-making process. The ERC decision does little to answer consumers’ demand for justice against oppressive electricity rates and inefficient Meralco management.
Hence, FDC reiterates our demand to convert the refund into consumer shares of ownership. The ERC cannot dismiss the more than 50,000 consumers who are FDC’s co-proponents to have the refund converted into shares. Most of these consumers come from households consuming at least 100 kWh. This number continues to grow.
FDC challenges the ERC and the President to take decisive steps towards democratic ownership and management of the power industry. The government must take full responsibility for ensuring that the power industry serves the public good.