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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) staged a picket-rally to denounce the House Committee on Energy’s decision to cancel the hearings on the review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
Cong. Reynaldo Umali, chairperson of the House Committee on Energy, cited that there was a “strong opposition” from national big business groups such as Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FEIP), and foreign chambers of commerce like the American Chamber of Commerce , European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, and the Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
“Sa nakaraang dalawang taon ay dumalo ang FDC at ipa pang progresibong grupo sa lahat ng public hearing tungkol sa EPIRA hindi lamang upang amiyendahan ito, kundi i-repeal at palitan ito ng mas mabuting batas. Ngayong tinapos na ang hearing ng walang kaabug-abog, ano ibig sabihin nito? Hindi na maaksyunan ng Kongreso ang hinihingi nating pagbabago sa EPIRA.” Ric Reyes, FDC Board Member said.
“Ang patakaran diyan: pag hindi maaksiyunan ng bagong Kongreso pagkatapos ng eleksyon, back to zero tayo. Lahat ng pinagsikapan natin at lahat ng pag-aaral na iniharap natin, binalewala nila,” Reyes added.
In said hearings, FDC and allied groups have presented evidence-based and scholarly studies showing the fundamental flaws of EPIRA which enabled power monopolies to capture and distort the market and extract unbelievable super profits from the consumers and small and medium businesses and evade hundreds of millions of taxes payable to the government.
“Walang kahihiyang sinabi ni Umali na kaya nila tinatapos ang hearing ay ayaw raw ng mga malalaking negosyante,” Reyes added.
“Akala po natin, kakampi natin sina Aquino at Umali - hindi pala. Mga taksil sila sa konsyumer!” Mercy Donor of Piglas Kababaihan exclaimed. “Kung di po dahil sa amin, wala po kayo diyan sa puwesto niyo. Sana naman, gantihan niyo kami ng kabutihan!”
Umali was blatant enough to tell the public that the Aquino-LP majority in the committee considered the interests of the power oligarchs and the foreign corporate chambers much more important than the interests of the consuming public and the small and medium businesses.
FDC demands the continuation of the House hearing and to make the process more inclusive. We demand from the leadership of both the House and the Senate to expedite the hearing process and hear the clamor of the people not only to amend but repeal EPIRA.