Power rates and privatization: Was the Filipino public swindled by GMA and Congress?
Exclusive - By Raïssa Robles
Privatize the power industry and electricity rates will go down. This was the promise made in 2001 by then President Gloria Macapagal and Congress when they lobbied for the passing of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
The act was passed and today, 13 years later, that promise remains unfulfilled. In fact, the exact opposite has happened. Far from decreasing, rates have increased. Customers of the biggest retail provider, Meralco, are staggering under the highest electric rates ever in the country’s history.
This is something for us to keep in mind today as petitioners against the power rate increase face the Manila Electric Co. in a preliminary conference ordered by the Supreme Court, a week before the oral arguments there.
Let’s go back to 2001. A week before Congress passed the EPIRA law on June 8, 2001, a full page ad came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on May 30, 2001.
I clipped it because two things caught my eye about this ad:
First, it promised that if the law is passed, electric rates would go down.
Second, Mrs Arroyo said “the high cost of electricity” was partly blame for poverty.
You can read for yourself this full page ad. I had to take a photo of it in sections: