Press Release
February 18, 2010

Enrile pushes lower electricity rates

Amid reports that electricity rates are likely to increase again starting next month, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is pushing for the passage of two pending bills that he says would significantly lower electricity rates for residential, commercial and industrial users.

Senate Bill 3147 or the Uniform Franchise Tax Measure proposes that government adopts a franchise tax regime where electric utilities are levied three percent (3%) tax on their gross distribution income in lieu of all national and local taxes. Currently, government is charging power utility firms with a 12% value added tax (VAT) on top of corporate income tax, and a local franchise tax imposed on their gross receipts which they simply pass on as additional charges to consumers.

On the other hand, Senate Bill 3148 or the Electricity Rate Reduction Act seeks to remove the disparities in treatment of royalties of indigenous energy sources not covered by the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, namely, natural gas, oil and coal. The bill proposes that the government share or royalties collected in the exploration, development and production of indigenous energy sources shall be reduced to three percent (3%) of net proceeds levied on generation companies. The tax savings will in turn be redirected to lower electricity rates to Filipino consumers in a significant and sustainable manner.

In a recent radio interview over DZVT-CMN Mindoro Occidental, Enrile, who is running for re-election under the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino, said that the twin bills, if passed, would bring down the cost of power by as much as P1.70/kwh.

Enrile said that the electricity rate increase in March may be inevitable due to the reduced water level in dams as a result of El Niño. "It is a supply and demand question," Enrile said, adding that "during the rainy season, it (electricity rates) will go down."

Asked if government efforts are enough to cope with El Niño, Enrile suggested that authorities undertake more cloud-seeding operations. "Cloud seeding is the solution. There is money for that, it is in the budget. And we have the equipment for this so that farmlands will not become parched. That is the only solution because there is no rain," Enrile said.

Enrile disclosed that rice and corn lands in Cagayan Valley have already been adversely affected by the prolonged dry spell. "We should conserve water and conserve food. And if necessary, we should import food from abroad or come up with substitutes," he said.

Enrile revealed that if re-elected to the Senate in the May elections, he would push for increased government expenditures for irrigation, conservation of the country's water resources, and massive tree planting to replenish damaged green areas in the country.

To help fisherfolks earn more income, Enrile said he would encourage them to engage in aquaculture, and for those involved in deep-sea fishing, to adopt modern fishing techniques.

On the issue of mining which has been a major issue in Mindoro, Enrile said: "Mining per se is not bad. It is one of the major industries that will contribute to our nation's progress. Mining is a source of employment for the country. So I am in favor of responsible mining."

Enrile said, however, that he does not favor backyard or small-scale mining because "it degrades the environment. They do not see the impact on our rivers and fishing areas. This procedure causes massive siltation."

As to his legislative agenda if given a mandate in the May elections, Enrile said he would focus on three major concerns: health, education and food production. "And of course, peace and order. You cannot have a happy society without peace and order. We cannot allow the use of force in our elections nor allow guns to rule the country. We should always uphold justice and the rule of law," Enrile added.

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