Bayan sets power rate hike protest on January 21

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 10 2014 03:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2014 11:18 PM

MANILA – The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has called for protests outside the Supreme Court on January 21, the day it holds oral arguments on petitions assailing the legality of the power rate increase that distribution utility Meralco wants to impose.

In a statement, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said, "Meralco continues to terrorize consumers with threats of power interruptions if higher rates are not implemented. This is unacceptable. Meralco has grown so big and powerful that it thinks it is above the law. It wants us to believe that everyone is at fault except Meralco. We call on the people to protest on January 21, the day of the SC oral arguments. Let's fill up Padre Faura and show consumer outrage against Meralco, the EPIRA and the do-nothing Aquino gov't."

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, meanwhile, welcomed the Supreme Court's ruling on the inclusion of the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and several power plants in the twin petitions against the power rate hike, calling it an "initial victory" towards people's desire for a long-term relief from huge amounts of electricity rate adjustments.

"This is a welcome relief to consumers battling the soaring power rates at the time when allegations of collusion are very strong," Barzaga pointed out.

PEMC is the operator of electricity trading flood Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

Barzaga explained that power producers are behind the spike in power rates, and the SC was just establishing the logic of alleged collusion.

"The Supreme Court made the right decision because power plants are part or one of the major reasons why Meralco sought the very huge power rate increase. The spike on power rates started from their (power plants) adjustments and they should be asked and questioned to explain," Barzaga said.