How the Big Boys (Oligarchs) Play, Part 1: Over-collections of Meralco

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Duterte is running after water concessionaires. HIs classmate and often referred to as the “billionaire” class salutatorian Finance secretary Dominguez is hot on Chevron, while Solicitor General and Marcos fanatic, Atty. Calida is hot on the heels of Lopez-owned ABS-CBN 2. Dominguez with Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, is also on the chase after Technohub, but this one on Meralco and electric power is not being played up and yer it is the biggest caper perhaps being played by these aquiline nosed big boys.

Former Energy Regulatory Commissioner Alfredo Non estimates that Meralco owes consumers about 50 billion pesos in over collections. This is definitely a far cry to the amounts being asked by Duterte that ABS-CBN 2 owns him and definitely far from the exorbitant or fantabulous amounts collected by other utilities–the toys of the Big Boys.

Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga says it has not committed any wrongdoing and performs only on measures as approved by the ERC (TV PATROL, ABS-CBN 2, 23 January 2020). Power industry advocate Uriel “Jojo” Borja estimates that as of current, Meralco over collections have reached 200 billion pesos already.

Consumers need their monies back, Meralco!

Meralco has this practice of passing the buck to consumers whenever they have some corporate expenses, something unheard of in the private-public sector in the world. Meralco cannot charge corporate expenses to the public especially if these are directed to fund expenses not related to the operations of the power distribution firm.

In 2014, the Supreme Court released a decision penned by no less than Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, which granted a petition disallowing the ERC decision to allow Meralco’s application for the approval of its unbundled rates.

Expenses not directly and entirely related to the operation of Meralco should not be passed on wholly or partially to consumers, in order that electricity shall be provided to consumers ” in the least cost manner.”

ERC requested to the Commission on Audit (COA) to check on Meralco’s books and sure enough, on November 12, 2009, Meralco’s unbundling of rates resulted in over-recoveries or revenues in excess of the required revenues by 1.682 billion in 2004 and by 5.327 billion in 2007!

On June 18, 2018, ERC commissioners Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit and Geronimo Sta Ana were suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for reportedly siding with Meralco.

(Part 2 to follow with details from Ado Paglinawan, Radyo Pilipinas)

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