11 November 2004
This government cannot ignore the raging nationwide protest of the people against power rate increase; the political repercussions for this adminisration will be enormous.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition, ALTERNATIBA, and KURYENTE! Alliance echo this threat amid the widespread participation of the people in last night’s power off and noise barrage against power rates increase.
“If the government is so inutile in stopping further increases in power rates and other basic necessities, if it is unable to protect the people from predatory tactics of vested interests, then this government no longer has the right to govern,” said FDC President Ana Maria R. Nemenzo.
Yesterday morning, some 500 protesters held a motorcade along Ayala Avenue for a die-in to dramatize their anger against the latest increase in power rates.
In the afternoon, 1,000 workers from the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino virtually paralyzed traffic east of Metro Manila as they held a road blockade at Marikina Bridge. Traffic stopped for nearly two hours, as workers demanded an immediate rollback of Napocor’s rate increase.
Down south in Taguig-Bicutan, 1,000 workers from Gel-Mart factory blocked traffic along South Expressway for more than an hour. Workers demanded a stop in price hikes and an increase in wages.
The nationwide protest reached its tenor as community residents in different parts inside and outside of Metro Manila switched off their lights at 7:30 pm and conducted noise barrage.
Women’s organizations, urban poor communities, youth and students’ organizations, religious organizations, and local government officials all united to demand government to stop power rate increase. Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes carried a torch as he ran from Timog Avenue to Project 4 that was in total darkness by 7:30 pm. About 50 parishes participated in the power off in this area.
Some 200 priests, nuns, and their students marched from St. Joseph College to Tatalon, Quezon City to join urban poor residents for the power off and noise barrage.
Motorists honked their horns as they passed through the protesters who were conducting noise barrage in Philcoa, E. Rodriguez, Welcome Rotonda, Bicutan interchange, McArthur Hi-way and in many more major areas.
As Napocor’s power rates increase is being felt all over the country, protests actions were not only confined in Metro Manila. Angry consumers have virtually crippled major cities and areas in other parts of the country.
North of Metro Manila, traffic stood for hours as thousands of motorists and protesters blocked MacArthur Hi-way in Valenzuela City, and Meycauyan and Marilao in Bulacan to protest the successive increases in power rates.
In Bacolod City, General Santos City, and Davao City, local government officials led the power off accompanied by a noise barrage in their city centers such as city hall, plaza, and boulevard area respectively. In Cagayan de Oro City, Mayor Vicente Emano led the residents and business establishments in turning off of lights in Divisoria – a central commercial district in the city.
The participation of consumers in the Visayas was also significant. About 90% of households in Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Talisay in Cebu turned off their lights and lighted candles outside their houses to protest as well the high power rates.
The different organizations threatened an even bigger protest action, lest the government made substantial and significant changes in its policy.
“As the people come to grip that Christmas is bleak, we will not relent in our protest against successive increases in power rates, transport fare, oil prices, food and food stuff, and other basic necessities,” Nemenzo said.
“Instead of increasing its rates, Napocor should endeavor to find ways of addressing its financial hemorrhage. One way is to cancel the onerous IPP contracts. Another is to genuinely renegotiate these contracts, focusing on the purchased power and fuel costs,” Nemenzo added.