MANILA – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday asked major power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to find ways to cushion the blow of high electricity rate increases particularly for marginalized household consumers.

During the House hearing on the sudden increase in power charges amid the government-imposed quarantine, Cayetano said Meralco should look into the option of providing at least 50 percent subsidies in the electricity bills of its lifeline consumers, or offering discounts to its customers in general.

“I don’t want to put you on the spot na parang sana i-libre niyo na ang isang buwan dahil pandemic because I know you are running a business. May financial side yan, may shareholders kayo. But can I request na tignan niyo ang mga lifeline? Baka naman may magawa ang Meralco (There is a financial side to that, and you have shareholders. But can I request that you look into the case of lifeline consumers? Maybe Meralco can do something about it),” Cayetano said.

He said Meralco should study whether they can delay payment or grant discount “at least for the sector that needs it the most”.

Cayetano, meanwhile, urged the Energy Regulatory Commission to be more progressive interpreting the law in a way that promotes the public good, instead of favoring a chosen few.

“If you’re not giving the best possible price to the public, then ibig sabihin may sweetheart deal diyan (then there is a sweetheart deal),” he said. “Sana during the President’s time, ma-reboot, ma-reset natin itong lahat. Hindi pwedeng na sinong mas malalaking kumpanya, sinong mas malalapit na kapit, sinong mas mayayaman, sila ang nasusunod (Hopefully, during the President’s time, we could reboot, reset everything. We shouldn’t let big companies, those with strong political ties, those who are rich, to control [society]… Public policy should be for the public).”

Meralco estimated the March and April electricity bills by using its customers’ consumption in the past three months.

However, consumers were shocked by the sudden surge in their supposed electricity consumption for May. (PNA)