14 January 2004
We welcome the Supreme Court resolution granting a status quo in favor of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and co-petitioners, thereby temporarily preventing the Meralco from applying a provisional authority granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission for a 12-centavo rate increase.
However, the ERC and Meralco are only temporarily off the hook. The Supreme Court has yet to speak with finality in favor of the consumers by prohibiting the ERC from taking any action on Meralco’s rate hike application. The SC has also to decide with finality on the very ERC order granting Meralco the provisional authority to increase rates and allowing it to make a mockery of processes for rate adjustment.
FDC and co-petitioners reiterate their call for the SC to declare as unconstitutional Rule 3, Section 4(c) of the Implementing Rules of Electricity Power Industry Reform Act. This provision in the Implementing Rules and Regulations gives ERC the power to grant provisional authorities, which the EPIRA does not provide. Clearly, this constitutes “undue delegation of legislative power.”
The coalition and co-petitioners sought relief from the High Court in December 2003 after the ERC had granted Meralco a provisional 12-centavo increase. Since FDC and co-petitioners’ opposition questions the constitutionality itself of ERC’s actions, this had to be filed with a higher body, Lidy Nacpil, secretary general of FDC, explained then.
“The High Court is bound to serve the people through the dispensation of justice,” said FDC officials. “It cannot but give due course to our petition for the annulment of the ERC order granting Meralco a provisional increase, an order that is clearly unconstitutional.”