Makabayan bloc wants TRO on power rate hike extended

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2014 04:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2014 01:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, and the rest of the so-called Makabayan bloc, on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to extend the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) vs the P4.15 per KWH Meralco rate hike.

The Makabayan bloc is one of the petitioners before the High Court against the assailed rate increase. The halt order on the collection of the rate adjustment will expire on Feb 24.

In an 11-page motion, Colmenares' group warned that lifting the TRO will lead to inflation.

"Because the Meralco franchise covers Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon, the economic hub of the largest manufacturing industries and the site of large factories, the rate hike will add billions to production cost of these manufacturers, fueling a steep rise in the prices of goods and services sold all over the country."

"If the decision to impose this rate hike is later found to be without basis and reversed, the inflation it has triggered and the high prices of goods already paid by the people can never be reversed or 'reimbursed,'" the motion read.

The group also assailed the power distribution's "threats" of brownouts should the TRO be extended, arguing that there is sufficient supply of power.

"Meralco's warnings of blackouts are baseless especially since respondent DOE (Dept of Energy) publicly announced that there is no undersupply of electricity and the supply situation during summer will not result in brownouts. In fact, Meralco claimed in its Comment that grid peak demand registered on May 8, 2013 was 8,300 MW while the reported aggregate capacity or supply is 11,466 MW."

"Any threat of brownout, therefore, is not based on the insufficiency of supply. It is nothing more than threatening the people for the people's exercise of their constitutional right to due process and remedies before this honorable court," the motion read.

Oral arguments into several petitions against the assailed rate adjustment were concluded last Tuesday.