php 4.15 power rate hike – outrageous and obscene

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 amendmentsMiriam to foreign traders: Explain pro-EPIRA lobbyEpira amendment bill might not pass – VillarSenators 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.


10 years of EPIRA: what went wrong?
The curious case of NAPOCOR debts
Power lords
ADB : Anti-Development Bank



  1. Totally agree with Angela on this one, and it’s a rare occurrence that I totally agree with Angela because I’m a Noynoy supporter from the very onset of the presidential campaign in the election that President Noynoy won the presidency. Everybody in my blog world knows that. I’m an avid defender of the president and what his administration is doing to this country I love because I know in my heart that President Noynoy is going to be a good president and good for the Philippines.

    Bilang isang simpleng tao, simple lang ang logic ko sa issue na ito ng power rate increase. Ito ay magpapahirap sa taong-bayan…at ito ay lalong magpapayaman sa mga capitalistang sobra na ang yaman. Magpapataas ito sa mga bilihin dahil saan ba kukuhanin ng mga manufacturers at suppliers ang dagdag na gastos nila sa kuryente kundi sa pagtataas din ng mga presyo ng kanilang producto na kailangang bilhin ng taong-bayan? Iyang mga magagaling sa gobierno ngayon, at iyong magagaling sa Energy Regulatory Board, at iyong magagaling sa Meralco, gusto kong marinig at patunayan sa akin, at sa taong-bayan, na mali ang simpleng logic na ito.

    Kapag hindi ninyo kami makumbinsi sa inyong paliwanag, ako at ang aking buong angkan ay sasama sa ano mang pagkilos para labanan ang hindi makatarungang pagtaas na ito sa singil ng kuryente.

  2. Friday the 13th lights off protest vs Meralco sa Biyernes
    by Johnny Arasga Dec 11, 2013 12:01pm HKT

    NAKALATAG na sa Biyernes ang ‘Friday the 13th lights off’ protest kaugnay sa mahigit P4.00 dagdag na singil kada kilowatt hour sa kuryente.

    Kaugnay nito, hinimok ng Kabataan partylist ang apat na milyong consumer ng power distributor na makihabol sa pagpatay sa ilaw sa loob ng 30-minuto mula alas-6 ng gabi.

    Ang nasabing hakbang, ayon kay Kabataan partylist Representative Terry Ridon ay inilatag nila para ipahatid sa Meralco ang pagtutol ng sambayanan sa bigtime power rate hike bagama’t hahatiin ito sa tatlong bagsakan.

    Magugunitang inanunsyo na ng Meralco ang P2.41 na dagdag singil kada kilowatt hour sa generation charge ngayong Disyembre; P1.21 sa Pebrero 2014 at P0.53 naman sa Marso 2014.

  3. ricelander

    The EPIRA is good only in theory. In a real world where only but a handful could participate because you need billions to enter the industry, you end up with collusion not competition. It might just work without the constitutional restriction on investment shielding our oligarchs.

    Nuclear power is cheapest on a per kilowatt hour basis but we are unwilling to take the risk like South Korea, Japan, and others— perhaps for good reason. But in a global world where competition for trade also goes global, he who has cheaper energy, hence cheaper cost of production and cheaper products, has a paramount edge, all other things equal.

    Anyway, technology is fast developing alternative sources such that in the future communities or even individuals may put up their own power source. Right now, it is still costly. Don’t you just love it when that time comes when individual consumers could just threaten to get off the grid instead.

    • rice, “It might just work without the constitutional restriction on investment shielding our oligarchs.” you mean the charter’s economic provision limiting foreign ownership? my fear re that is that our very brilliantly crooked oligarchs would surely find a way around it, business as usual, or under it, probably with collusion of friends in congress? there must be other ways. and yes, here’s to the day of cheap alternative sources. not in my lifetime though, at the rate it’s going.

      • ricelander

        Open investment would, at least in theory, provide competition against our local players thus lowering the price. I do not know how our oligarch would go around it. But I know where you are coming from: you are against Constitutional revision.

        There must be other way, you ask. Well, a government-led industry such as what Marcos established.

        Dalawa lang yan: government-led or private sector -led or perhaps a mixture of both. Both have their own pitfalls. These we are experiencing now are those of private sector-led strategy. Those of government-led strat you see in Marcos energy program.

    • Batang-genyo-Alah Eh

      dito po sa Lipa city,Batangas mayroon na rin po gumamit ng alternativong energia na tinatawag na solar energy. Ang aking hipag ay nagpakabit sa rooftop ng bahay na umaabot ng Ph.250k lang noong taon 2003 at hangang ngayon siya ay nakakatipid sa korenyente. May nakaambang na rin kami sa bahay nitong solar energy. Kung sana ay susuportahan at e-subsidized ng pamahalaan ang pagpalaganap ng solar energy siguro po mas bababa ang singil ng Meralco. Kailang lang po ay isulong ang private initiative upang mapwersa ang pamahalan na mag provide ng socialized energy dahil itoy isang basic resources ng pangkabuhayan pa=ngangailangan

  4. manuel buencamino

    Epira was supposedly the solution to the failure of government to provide affordable power without relying on subsidies that were an enermous drain on the government’s pocketbook, an expenditure that necessarily entailed cutbacks in other equally vital areas of public spending. It did not turn out that way.

    But we cannot go back to the pre-Epira setup which was a proven failure. So the question is, where do we go from here? That’s the challenge to the Leonor Brioneses of the country. We cannot rely on Congress for a solution because they do not have the expertise for this kind of a problem and they have a thousand other things to attend to. It is up to those who have the time and the know-how to offer a way out of our predicament. Blaming politicians and businessmen, characterizing them as greedy etc is not going to solve anything, alam na naman natin lahat na corrupt and incompetent ang marami sa gobyerno, alam din natin na maraming negosyante ay mga swapang at mandaraya.

    We need not dwell on what is obvious. What we need are solutions that those who are competent and able must produce.

    I have yet to see a solution that moves forward from the pre-EPIRA regime but that does not send us over cliff and into the arms of greedy private investors.

    There is a dearth of solutions because we keep pointing out what is wrong instead of offering ways to fix it.

    What should the ideal power generation and distribution industry look like? Who should be the players? What will be the rules of the game? Who will be the referee? etc. etc.

      • ricelander

        “…the perils of privatization in under-developed markets, where you have a tiny, oligarchic private sector, which lacks capital, expertise, and — above all — appreciation for collective interest, but has unshakable grip on the the political economy.”

        I want to highlight that part of that link.

    • When vital sectors of the economy are forced to be self-regulated under the market driven economy, a weak govt such ours abdicate its responsibility to control prices in order to reward private enterprises of efficiency and productivity to increase their profitability. However, since our economy are controlled by a few oligarchy,self-preservation takes priority over socialized needs for productivity. It’s this dilemna which the govt has to grab by its horn to develop a socially-conscious new emerging markets.

      To Angie and the Stuart-Santiago families and to every one, Happy holiday greetings and wishing for a brighter, prosperous New year!