By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – This month, Filipino consumers are being asked yet again to cope with increased electricity rates, spurring protests and renewed calls to scrap the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA. The law is being blamed for having allowed electricity rates to increase so much.
The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s biggest electricity distributor, recently announced it will hike its rates starting June. Citing a 54-centavo increase in generation charges, Meralco has proposed to recoup this via the generation rate adjustment mechanism (GRAM), which it could increase automatically under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
Given that electricity in the Philippines is already the highest in Asia, higher than high-income Japan, public opposition to EPIRA has been mounting. Business groups, large and small, have also complained of the rates, with some multinational companies relocating in other countries reportedly because of high electricity rates.
“As things stand, power rates have made small and medium-scale businesses more inclined to close shop while bigger businesses transfer to other countries,” observed Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
Progressive groups ask Aquino why he has not yet called for the reversal of GMA’s first law, EPIRA. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
Last year, the multi-sectoral alliance Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance) submitted to Congress its review of EPIRA. The group has been urging lawmakers to conduct its own review of the said law, in hopes Congress could see the need to scrap it altogether.
So when EPIRA turned 11 years old last Friday June 8, coinciding with the Meralco rate hike announcement and likely hikes, too, in Mindanao, progressive groups led by Bayan marched to Mendiola (now Chino Roces Bridge) to denounce the Aquino government’s continued implementation of EPIRA..... MORE