MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – A second petition has been filed with the Supreme Court (SC) against the P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh) power rate hike announced by Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the first tranche of which will be felt by consumers in their December electricity billing.
A day after the Makabayan bloc at the Lower House filed their petition, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore), Federation of Village Associations (Fova), and Federation of Las Pinas Homeowners Association (Folpha), filed a 35-page class suit this morning against the Meralco, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and Department of Energy (DOE).
The group urged the high court to prevent the implementation of the rate increase, and, while the case is pending, issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or status quo ante order (SQAO) to prevent Meralco from charging consumers with the new rate adjustment.
Petitioners pointed out that consumers' right to due process was violated because there was no due notice and hearing on Meralco's rate hike proposal, and no publication of it or public advisory via major publications.
Meralco submitted its rate hike proposal to the ERC on December 5; on December 9, ERC gave its nod.
They claimed that this violation of due process was also committed "when automatic rate adjustments or increases borne out by [Meralco's] alleged generation costs were allowed and subsequently collected against the electricity consuming public."
The group asked the SC to declare as null and void all resolutions, orders, and other issuances by ERC authorizing automatic rate adjustments or increases.
"ERC gravely abused its discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, when it allowed the said automatic rate adjustments and increases of Meralco in its generation costs, without first requiring publication, notice or hearing involving the public who will bear the brunt of such adjustments or increases," the petition read.
They also urged the SC to order the creation of a committee, with the Commission on Audit (COA) as head, to conduct an automatic audit on electricity rate adjustments imposed by Meralco since 2004.
This committee should determine the amount of refund Meralco should pay consumers for these "illegal" rate increases, the group said.
This December, power consumers are expected to see electricity rates spike by as much as P2 per kWh, P1 in February, and P0.44 per kWh in March.
Meralco said this is due to a month-long maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas line and forced outage of other major power plants in Luzon.