MANILA (UPDATE) - Consumers affected by granular lockdowns in Metro Manila will not be covered by disconnections once Meralco resumes cutting service for customers with unpaid bills after September 15, when modified enhanced community quarantine is lifted and government shifts to a new scheme for the region.
Meralco said this Friday as the region girds for the implementation of general community quarantine (GCQ) restrictions paired with granular lockdowns later this month.
"Bagama't may online functions, but since government says that specific areas are undergoing granular lockdown, di parang MECQ na rin 'yun," ani Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga.
(Although there are online functions, but government says specific areas are undergoing granular lockdown - then it's as if the area is under MECQ.)
Meralco explained that while disconnection activities for customers with arrears will continue under GCQ, consumers under granular lockdown whose bills have piled up are exempted.
Government is expected to implement after September 15 a new quarantine classification system in Metro Manila, a move that aims to help businesses recover from the effects of widespread lockdowns.
The metropolis is currently under modified enhanced community quarantine while the government prepares to iron out guidelines for the new system.
These restrictions will be paired with granular lockdowns, where mobility remains limited in select areas such as streets, compounds and buildings, instead of entire barangays or cities.
Meralco recently increased its rates for the 6th straight month at P0.105 kilowatts-per-hour, which translates to a P21-P53 increase for average households.
Zaldarriaga said this is due to the price increase from generation plants contracted by Meralco.
With the increases since April, the overall rate has already been around P0.79 per hour.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said his office is studying the possibility of extending the "no disconnection policy" for consumers in areas under granular lockdowns.
"Kasi nakalockdown ka, di ka makalabas para makabayad at kumita ng pera para kailangan pambayad sa water bill so ginagawa natin dapat na hindi ka pwede ma-penalize for that kaya no disconnection 'pag may lockdown sa area niyo," ani Ty.
(You are in a lockdown, you cannot go out to pay and generate income to pay your bills. So we should not penalize for that, and there should be no disconnections in lockdown areas.)
A consumer, Encarnacion Pelaez, appealed to power and water distributors to stop increasing rates, as bills for the month of September are set to come soon.
"Namomroblema ako kasi wala man akong ibang malapitan na. Utang na lang... Huwag naman sanang taasan ng taasan kasi sa panahon ngayon pandemic po ang hirap po," Pelaez said.
(I don't have anyone to approach anymore and it's a problem. Just loans. I hope they don't keep on increasing the rates because the pandemic has hit hard.)
— Report from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News