“Public interest must always undergird public utility management,” said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go as he issued a continuing appeal to big businesses, particularly power distribution utilities, to balance public and business interests as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take a financial toll on struggling families throughout the country.
The plea also came after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive extending the ‘no disconnection’ policy in order to ensure low-income households or lifeline consumers who are struggling to pay their bills on time can still have access to electricity.
“Kung maaari nga kahit ‘no profit’ muna. Ang isipin muna natin ngayon ay kung paano tayo tumawid sa new normal, paano tayo makaka-survive dito sa krisis na ito,” Go said, appealing to everyone, “mag-bayanihan po tayo para sa ikabubuti ng kapwa nating Pilipino.”
In an advisory released on February 6, the Department of Energy directed all distribution utilities to implement a ‘no disconnection’ policy for consumers with unsettled bills falling due on March 2021 and whose consumption levels are within the lifeline rate or below 100 kilowatt hours per month.
The advisory encouraged all electricity consumers with pending bills to enter into a “socially equitable and manageable payment terms” with their distribution utilities.
Earlier, the Senator had issued a call to Meralco to study a possible extension of their ‘no disconnection’ policy for underprivileged and lifeline consumers.
He also urged the government to explore other ways to alleviate the impact of the pandemic by avoiding any additional financial burden on families that are already struggling to make ends meet.
Lifeline consumers presently comprise 32% of Meralco’s customer base and account for only 3% of the firm’s total electricity sales.
Meanwhile, RJ Javellana of United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC), warned against complicity between the Energy Regulatory Commission and Meralco, and appeals to the public to be vigilant against abuses in public utilities.
In a YouTube video, Javellana interviews Butch Junia to discuss their advocacy.
WATCH VIDEO: Sabwatan ng Meralco at ERC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKPvrppG3sM