Press Release
May 28, 2008


Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero today said the recent tug-of-war over the control of Meralco should bring to the fore the need to bring light to eight million Filipinos.

Escudero said that at present 1.8 million households or 8 million people, mostly in rural areas , are without electricity , citing the 2004 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office.

"Lost in the power debates is the "embarrassing fact" that one in every five homes does not have electricity" Escudero said

That denial of such a basic service assumes a scandalous proportion, he said, if taken against the backdrop of consumers paying for 4,879 megawatts of unutilized energy a year under the take-or-pay provision in the contracts of power producers.

Power that we pay for but we don't use is enough to light 20 million homes, Escudero said, or six times the 3.2 million families which the NSO survey revealed as having no access to electricity.

Escudero said while government has been showing off a report card which says that the decades-old rural electrification program would finally "energize" all of the country's 41,945 this year, "it doesn't mean that all homes will have power."

"All barangays may be linked to the power grid but having electricity at home is not just a question of access but also of income. This is the reason why we have barong-barongs with no electricity under brightly-lit billboards," he said

"A town may appear in the national scorecard of electrification as long having been with power but what it doesn't show is the number of people in the same town which cannot afford light and power, "he said.

This is evident in the APIS which revealed that nine in 10 families that belong to the higher 70 percent income stratum have electricity in their homes compared to five in 10 families in the lowest 30 percent, Escudero said.

With coal and oil prices driving electricity bills up, which in turn spiral up in unison with rice and food prices, more people would opt to temporarily sever their power connection "because in the competition between rice and electricity the former wins hands down."

"If they can't bring down power rates, boardroom battles will have no relevance to rooms without light, to homes without power. Electricity has correlation to poverty and electricity. School performance improves when there is literally a light bulb over a child's head," he said.

He said a "cocktail of solutions" should be carried out to lower the rates those with electricity pay and to make electricity affordable or accessible to those who do not have it yet.

News Latest News Feed