and yet the palace’s first reaction was to defend it — not arbitrary, not unreasonable, it is based on the law. ah, yes, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, the infamous EPIRA that the senate of the eleventh congress passed in the last minutes of the gloria arroyo regime, with the promise that privatization of NAPOCOR would bring down the cost of power to the consumer.
yeah right. according to a bill filed by senator gringo last year re mindanao’s power problems, when EPIRA became law in june 2001, the retail price per kilowatt hour was php 5.32. in march 2011 it was php 9.84. last month, says boo chanco, it was php 11.06. the php 4.15 hike would make it php 15.21. check your last meralco bill and weep.
i’m aghast that the palace made that mistake at all, defending that obscene price hike as though we were talking in centavos rather than pesos in today’s foreign exchange, and as though the department of energy were not remiss in its duties to the public.
mabuti at natauhan sila. konting damage control, better late than never — coloma pleading that private power companies practice corporate social responsibility, voluntarily desist from passing on costs to consumers, esp in the wake of yolanda, and energy sec jericho petilla promising to investigate and to fearlessly call out the unscrupulous ones, if any, no matter how powerful or powerfully connected. (dec 7 teleradyo with henry omaga diaz)
petilla won many many pogi points when he promised to restore electricity to yolanda-ravaged regions by christmas eve, or he would resign. on twitter he has been praised to high heavens and a rosy 2016 run-for-whatever-position predicted. hmm, too soon to tell, even if he’s smooth and simpatiko and all that. i heard him saying that he does not know how much the restoration will cost, but he will do it, whatever the cost, bahala na. which is truly nakaka-tense for the visayas.
surely petilla knows that the problem,whether in luzon, visayas, or mindanao, is the EPIRA. here’s what freedom from debt coalition’s leonor briones said in an open letter to the president in april 2012 when mindanao was gripped by brownouts and higher costs.
Mr. President, the highly flawed policy framework of EPIRA or Electric Power Industry Reform Act is the problem behind the Mindanao power supply issue. This law is designed for big business interests, not for public service. Before EPIRA was passed, the former National Power Corporation was responsible for generating electricity as well as developing power transmission lines. But EPIRA in effect removed this fundamental role of the State. What EPIRA did was to pave the way for private investors to come in and chart the course of generating electric power in our country. This law also gave the control and management of a major pillar of the industry – our national power transmission lines to a foreign State corporation – State Grid of China with Henry Sy’s SM Holdings Corporations as its partner.
In short, the matter of developing electric power supply and management has been left at the mercy of the private sector, an oligopoly of a few big, long-entrenched family/corporate interests.
kung talagang magaling si petilla, and his heart is in the right place, he would champion the repeal of the evil EPIRA and come up with an alternative reform program that would put the public interest on equal footing with business interests. there has to be a way, an ethical way. maybe a price ceiling, a profit ceiling, for this essential expense? how naive of me? meralco made a net profit of 17B in 2012, a third higher than the previous year, and surely it’s doing even better in 2013. how about meralco shouldering the costs instead, for a change? pay back, pay forward.
but wait, meralco says it’s not to blame, it’s only a distributor (really? no power plants?). what’s gone up in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, meralco says, is the generation charge of the power plants producing the electricity. hmm. but WESM was devised to encourage competition and keep prices down. so what is going on? speculation by the big players? capitalist greed as usual? who runs WESM? who owns the power plants making hay while malampaya is away? mga tao ba ito? mga pilipino ba ito? sino-sino ba itong mga ito na ang titindi kumabig, in billions upon bllions of pesos, wringing hard-earned thousands upon thousands from consumers. sila mismo, along with meralco, and the rest of the power industry that have been enriching themselves at our expense, ang may kaya at nararapat na magbayad niyang 4.15 na yan. hindi naman puwede, hindi naman tama, na pass-on na lang sila nang pass-on, lahat na lang ay sa atin sinisingil, to protect, nay, enhance, their profits.
now senator serge is saying that the malampaya fund should be used to subsidize the rate hike. WHAT? that’s like saying the rate hike is okay, we just need to find the money to pay the power oligarchs. senator serge should explain instead why they voted yes to the EPIRA in the first place. he was part of the senate of the 11th congress that gave the final seal of approval in june 2001, along with robert barbers, rodolfo biazon, rene cayetano, anna dominique coseteng, franklin drilon, juan flavier, gregorio honasan, robert jaworski, loren legarda, ramon magsaysay jr., blas ople, tessie aquino oreta, sonny osmena, aquilino pimentel, ramon revilla, miriam santiago, vicente sotto iii, and francisco tatad. oh and let’s not forget former president gma who pushed for the EPIRA, complete with bribery, it is said. you wonder what was in it for arroyo. is she or her family a power industry player too?
ironically, given how unpopular he is these days, enrile was the only senator who said no to the EPIRA in 2001. and in june 2008 – power rates had risen to php 8.3/kwh in april from php 7.43/kwh in dec 2007 – upon his initiative the senate (14th congress 2007-2010) introduced amendments to the EPIRA to address the perceived weaknesses and clarify the ambiguous provisions in the law.
Juan Ponce Enrile: Seven (7) years ago, Congress passed Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) with the end goal of providing affordable and reliable electricity to consumers in the Philippines. To achieve this goal, the law provided for the restructuring and deregulation of the power industry, however, there were not enough safeguards to prevent power industry players from manipulating the rates and the unabated transfer of the burden of what are properly costs of doing business on to the consumers. [bold mine]
It is in this light that I pushed for the amendments of the EPIRA in order to correct the flaws of the law and to set additional safeguards that will allow the end-users of electricity to enjoy an efficient, reliable, and inexpensive electric power system. (Posted on Facebook)
read More Senators join Enrile in pushing for EPIRA amendments … Miriam to foreign traders: Explain pro-EPIRA lobby … Epira amendment bill might not pass – Villar … Senators scold foreign traders at Epira hearing. yes, there was, is, a foreign lobby to stop amendments to the EPIRA. obviously the lobby was successful.
here’s calling out the senators of the 14th congress: villar the husband, enrile, estrada the son, kiko pangilinan, migs zubiri, pimentel the father, angara the father, joker arroyo, rodolfo biazon, the cayetano kids, miriam santiago, chiz escudero, dick gordon, gringo honasan, ping lacson, lito lapid, loren legarda, jamby madrigal, revilla the son, mar roxas, sonny trillanes, and last but certainly not the least, benigno aquino the son, now the president. you all owe us an explanation for buckling to foreign pressure. and you all owe us big time for abandoning us to the mercies of a merciless oligarchy.
it’s not as if life is good, the living easy, for the low- and middle-income masses of luzon that depend on meralco for electricity. if anything, living conditions have gone from bad to worse, with wages remaining low while prices of essential commodities are forever spiralling. except for the rich and relatively rich, life is harsh, the living a struggle to make ends meet for millions, esp the ones with families, children, to feed, clothe, shelter, and send to school.
life is harsh, the living a struggle, and electricity is the one essential commodity that makes life, the daily grind, bearable. imagine what life would be like for the masses without electricity. walang ilaw, walang electric fan, radyo, tv, walang pang-charge ng celfone, (and for the middle class) walang fridge, computer, internet, oven, toaster, plancha, washing machine. ang dilim. ang lungkot. ang bigat.
we won’t die without electricity the way we would die without food and water, but it would be a kind of death, it would be the pits, and many already beg, steal, or borrow, ‘wag lang maputulan ng koryente. no wonder at all that the news of a php 4.15 (!) price hike, no matter if temporary (malaking IF), no matter if utay-utay ang singil, is driving the masses to tearful, and fearful, desperation. paano na. tipid na tipid na nga. wala nang ihihigpit ang sinturon.
unless the president and the lawmakers get their act together on the EPIRA and bring down the power rate to truly reasonable levels, millions of poor pinoys in the very near future would have to do with even less food and less utilities, maybe no radio, no tv – no entertainment, no escape! – just to keep up payments for a little light, shore up what little dignity they have left, as they struggle, kahig-tuka, to keep body and soul together.
beware the social volcano.