Senate panel to summon Meralco to explain electricity bill shock

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 03 2020 04:45 PM

MANILA - Senate committee on energy chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday said the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) would be summoned to the Senate to explain the sudden increase in electricity bills during the nearly 80-day enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Meralco earlier promised the committee that they would send out letters of explanation to consumers but only 10 of 29 bills reviewed by the panel had sufficient explanations, Gatchalian said in a statement.

"Napakahirap intindihin ng eksplanasyon ng Meralco," Gatchalian said, noting that his office has received at least 200 complaints against Meralco bills.

(It is so hard to understand Meralco's explanation.)

"Ang kailangan ng mga tao ay simpleng pagpapaliwanag, hindi naman 'yung tipong kailangang scientist pa ang magpaliwanag ng formula," he said.

(The public needs simple terms, not the kind that seems like you need a scientist in explaining the formula.)

"Paano magbabayad ang mga tao kung hindi nila naiintindihan ang kanilang binabayaran?" he said.

(How can people pay their bills when they don;t understand what they are paying?)

Meralco will be asked to postpone collection of payments until the electricity distributor thoroughly explains to consumers how their bills were computed, Gatchalian said. 

"Gustong magbayad ng tao pero gusto nilang maintindihan kung paano binabasa at kino-compute ang aktuwal na gamit nila ng kuryente," he said.

(People want to pay but they want to understand how their meters were read and how their electricity consumption was computed.)

"So hangga't hindi malinaw ang eksplanasyon ng Meralco ay 'wag munang maningil," he said.

(So until the explanation is clear, they shouldn't be collecting payments.)

Meralco earlier said that the bills were based on estimates as actual reading of meters could not be done during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown.

The power provider issued new bills in June to counter the shock on estimated dues and came up with installment schemes for payment. 

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has also directed Meralco to explain its billing process after receiving numerous complaints from consumers.