Senator Win Gatchalian has commended the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for swiftly acting on his call to undertake measures that will protect electricity consumers during the extended Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), including the staggered payment of electricity bill.
The ERC has issued an advisory on the staggered payment scheme of electricity bills for up to four months after Gatchalian wrote the Commission asking to help ease the burden of affected consumers, whose payables are piling up with the extension of due dates.
Utility companies, including the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), have deferred payment of bills since mid-March when the quarantine took effect.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa ERC sa mabilis na pagtugon sa ating pakiusap na tulungan ang ating mga kababayan na maibsan ang bigat ng patong-patong na bayarin na kanilang kakaharapin pagkatapos nitong ECQ. Sa inilabas na bagong advisory ng ERC, hindi na kailangang mangamba pa ng ating mga kababayan na sila’y mapuputulan,” Gatchalian said.
In his letter to the ERC, Gatchalian asked to “further extend the payment of electricity bills to take into consideration the present and future, if any, enhanced community quarantine extension.”
Gatchalian has also urged the ERC and the Department of Energy (DOE) to include electric bill subsidies in the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) for affected communities.
Citing Section 4(x) of the Bayanihan Act, the lawmaker pointed out that the government may reprogram, reallocate, and realign budget to fund measures “that address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including social amelioration for affected communities, and the recovery of areas, sectors and industries severely affected.”
Meanwhile, the government has earlier announced that some three million poor customers with an electricity consumption of less than 50 kilowatt hours a month will no longer be charged under the Pantawid Liwanag program of electric cooperatives.
However, Meralco and other private distribution utilities are not involved in the said program./Stacy Ang