21 January 2004
The flurry of statements from foreign business groups condemning the recent Supreme Court resolution preventing Meralco from implementing the provisional increase of 12 centavos comes as no surprise to the Freedom from Debt Coalition.
The tightening of poor households’ budgets due to rate increases of electricity as well as water and its negative impacts on health and education conditions must be farthest from their minds. Big business, after all, is more concerned with the maximization of profits, even to the detriment of the poor and marginalized.
In a market setup where utilities have a captive market and guaranteed sales, it’s absurd for Meralco to claim that it has no money to fund its capital investments. We can only assume that profit is either funneled into other ventures, or Meralco is mismanaged. In any case, the public should not be made to bear the burden of private business risks.
In the first place, the ERC should not have so hastily granted Meralco’s petition without the benefit of a public consultation. It is now for the Supreme Court to uphold what should be the foremost consideration in this matter: the public interest.
Provisioning for electric service is not comparable to just any business enterprise because public interest is at stake. Such an endeavor cannot and should not be left alone to big business and regulators colluding with private interest.