DOJ still probing Meralco power hike

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2014 08:00 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2014 04:00 AM

MANILA - The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of the Competition has failed to meet its end-of-January deadline for the completion of its investigation into alleged collusion among Meralco, power suppliers, and generation companies that led to an unprecedented P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kwh) rate hike.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Thursday said the office, headed by Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy, has yet to submit its findings and recommendations.

De Lima expects Sy's group to ask for an extension for the submission of their report.

"I have yet to receive a recommendation from them," she said.

The justice chief, however, said that due to the "complex and highly technical" nature of the probe, it is "understandable" that it will take some time.

The investigation was brought about by a formal request from Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez, Maitet Diokno of the Center for Power Issues and Initiatives (CPII), Wilson Fortaleza of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and NAGKAISA, and Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) President Ricardo Reyes in December.

The group urged the DOJ to look into possible collusion among Meralco, First Gas Power Corporation, San Miguel Corporation, Kepco Philippines, Aboitiz Power, Team Energy Corporation, AES Philippines, and DMCI Holdings, Inc. following the simultaneous shutdown of their plants that led Meralco to secure its power supply at a more expensive price from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

The simultaneous shutdown of plants came at a time when the Malampaya natural gas platform was also undergoing maintenance shutdown.

The Supreme Court (SC) has restrained the implementation of the P4.15 per kwh rate adjustment.

Three petitions against the rate hike are pending with the high court.