Malacañang open to EPIRA law review as power rates surge
Manila, Philippines – Malacañang yesterday said it is open to the proposal of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. to revisit the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) Law due to the skyrocketing electricity rate.
“Bukas naman tayo sa pagtingin doon [We are open to that],” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
The EPIRA Law, Republic Act (RA) No. 9136, was enacted in 2001 with the expectation that it would bring down electricity rates and improve the delivery of power supply to end-users by encouraging greater competition and efficiency in the electricity industry. It was signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 8, 2001.
Valte said Malacañang welcomes public moves to file court action against the increasing power rates.
“When it comes to court action or any legal remedy that is available to consumers or to anybody who has the legal standing to do so, malaya silang gawin yun [they are free to do so],” she said.
She said the Executive understands the public’s sentiments, which is why the President has directed the Cabinet to look for ways to cushion the effects of the increasing power rates.
Malacañang had earlier expressed concern over the increasing power rates, along with the impending increase in fares of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the increase in fuel prices.
President Aquino has instructed Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa to study the possibility of using the Malampaya funds to subsidize the transport sector in order to cushion the impact of the power rate hike on consumers.
Meralco will be implementing its power rate hike in three tranches: P2.41 per kilowatt hour (kwh) this December, P1.21/kwh in February, and P0.53/kwh in March.
Meralco has said the increase in electricity rate is due to the month-long maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas line and of major power plants in Luzon.
Congress has initiated an investigation of the charge of collusion among various sectors of the power industry as well as government regulatory offices that brought about the impending situation of high power rates this month and in succeeding months.