12 March 2003
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) lambasted the Energy Regulatory Commission today for continuing to be deaf to the demands of consumers on the Meralco refund issue.
According to FDC they have time and again pressed for the Commission to address the following urgent matters in the interest of the public and the pursuit of justice, but these demands fell on deaf ears:
1. Hold in abeyance the implementation of refund and give consumers time to scrutinize the information and refund amount submitted by Meralco. The interest payment should be included in the computation of the refund amount. It is the right of the consumers to verify whether or not Meralco is shortchanging them of the amount they stand to receive.
2. Re-open the public debate and consultation to give serious consideration to positions of consumer groups and people’s organizations.
At this juncture, it is imperative that the ERC conduct a genuine public consultation to take into account the public’s choice on any refund scheme.
The Commission should present a clear refund plan before implementing any refund scheme.
The coalition criticized the Commission for pushing through with the refund in accordance with the plans proposed by Meralco.
Reacting to recent newsreport that ERC Chair Manuel Sanchez had asked Meralco to extend the coverage of the next phase to include those consuming up to 250 kWh, FDC commented: “who is he to negotiate in behalf of the consumers?” Further, FDC said that the ERC does not speak for the consumers on this issue. “It is the consumers’ money in question here, so it is just right that the consumers have to be the ones to decide how they want to get their money back,” FDC added.