MANILA - The P47 convenience fee charged against consumers who pay their electric bills online should be scrapped, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the Senate's Energy Committee chair, said Monday.
Meralco earlier said that it would waive the fee during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila or from March 16 to May 15, 2020 only.
"Why will Meralco resume collecting 47 pesos from every household when many of our ordinary kababayans have just returned to work trying to recover financial losses? This should not happen! The public has been inconvenienced enough," Gatchalian said in a statement.
"Kaya nga natin sinusulong ang paggamit ng online platforms sa pagbayad ng mga bills ay upang hindi na lumabas ng bahay at makipagsapalaran sa mga bayad centers at iba pang establisyemento ang mga tao, pagkatapos ay pababayarin din pala sila ng dapat na pang serbisyo publiko na lang," he said.
(We are pushing for the use of online platforms in paying bills so that the public won't have to leave their homes to pay bills, and now they will still be asked to pay fees that should have been waived as part of public service.)
Meralco earlier clarified that the "convenience fee" is paid not to the electricity distribution company, but to an online payment platform operated and maintained by a third-party service provider.
But Gatchalian said other distribution utilities should be dissuaded in "coming up with a similar setup, to the detriment of power consumers."
"We don't want to create undue stress to our consumers," he said.
The senator urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to look into the fees being charged by third-party service providers.