Press Release
December 11, 2013


Senator Chiz Escudero said the possibility of seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the court is one of the options to prevent the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) from charging its consumers P4.15 per kilowatt per hour (kWh) beginning this month, the utility giant's biggest power rate increase.

"I think that is being studied by some groups already and even on our part, we are looking into it," Escudero said. "Taking this to court and ask for a TRO is the closest, legal and soundest option available now."

According to Escudero, his office is in the process of obtaining pertinent documents for review and may challenge in court Meralco's power rate hikes, which will be implemented in three installments. The power company claimed that the increase would help it cope with the adjustment in generation charges spawned by the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya facility and other power plants where it gets energy supply.

The huge hike will cost an additional P830 to the monthly billing of consumers using an average of 200 kHw.

Such increase, Escudero said, is clearly an abuse of the automatic increase provision granted to Meralco by the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC.)

"Meralco cannot justify its increase with the generation cost rationale. If they are too quick to impose a price hike, they must also this quick or quicker to refund the consumers and give us our rebates in the shortest period of time. It should bequid pro quo," he said. Escudero also blasted the ERC for sleeping on the job and allowing an antiquated system to prevail, which is inherently biased against consumers.

"The ERC has been using a cost-based formula in fixing rates when it should use a market-based formula. In the cost-based system, the only basis they have in pricing is the cost presented by the distribution facility applying for an increase. It does not factor in the general market, like that much-awaited rebate. ERC does not even factor in the multiplier effect it will have on the market," Escudero pointed out.

The senator also welcomed an inquiry by the Senate to scrutinize Meralco's power rate hike, the ERC and the Department of Energy and "explain this and other distortive, biased and dilatory practices against consumers."

"We still have one week to conduct sessions and hearing. We just passed the national budget and that's already eighty percent off our load for this session. I believe we still have time. I hope this increase will be short-lived and hopefully will be stopped via the intervention of courts," Escudero said.

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