Philippine campaign against high electricity rates snowballs

2012-fight-kuryentiis-epira-fdc

Philippines – Thousands of electricity consumers from 55 cities and municipalities from 15 provinces and 10 regions are expected to stage a multi-form protest on November 22, dubbed as “National Day of Action against high electricity rates.

QUEZON CITY – Thousands of electricity consumers from 55 cities and municipalities from 15 provinces and 10 regions are expected to stage a multi-form protest on November 22, dubbed as “National Day of Action against Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act), high electricity rates and privatization of the power industry.”

In a press conference here, various groups, led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), said that the whole-day protest will focus on issues that affect the ordinary electricity consumers.

“Sobra na ang pagtitiis ng mga konsyumer sa mataas na singil sa kuryente na dulot ng Epira. Sobra na ang kuryentiis ng mga mamamayan. Panahon para ito labanan at hamunin ang mga kinauukulan na gumawa ng hakbang para tugunan ang isa sa pangunahing problema ng bawat simpleng Pilipino,” said Manjette Lopez, FDC vice president.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said: "After 10 years of Epira, we have higher electricity prices, worse power delivery, and a real power crisis. Epira has shown itself to be a very deficient instrument from the point of view of achieving our national power and energy goals. It's time to repeal it."

Ricardo Reyes, FDC president, said that consumers will also stage “Occupy Meralco” in various branches, including the main office, of the distribution company in the National Capital Region at exactly 10:00 AM on Thursday.

Aside from “Occupy Meralco,” the groups encouraged consumers to hold different forms of protests in their respective communities. Among the forms of protest they proposed include power-off, noise barrage, march, torch parade, human chain, picket, shadow play, flying lanterns, caravan, mobile propaganda team (MPT) and flash mob, among others. The groups also launched an online petition urging the President and the legislative branch to take action on the issues they are raising.

Below are the issues that the groups are raising:

• The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) that favors the corporations than the consumers. This framework privatizes super profits but socializes costs;

• The skyrocketing electricity rates that continue to burden the people;

• The privatization of Angat hydro-electric power plant (HEPP) in Bulacan, supply contract of Unified Leyte Geothermal power plant (ULGPP) in Eastern Visayas, and Agus-Pulangi hydro-complexes in Mindanao;

• The Senate Bill 3250, which was filed by Sen. Serge Osmeña, to extend the life of the Power Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. for another 10 years;

• The open access or electricity market under the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which is prone to price manipulation. In Mindanao, the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) is about to be implemented and the government has admitted that it will cause an increase by P0.03-P0.72 depending on what energy source is sold to the interim market. At present, the rate is at P2.94 per kilowatt-hour in the island;

• The proposed additional charges, such as the Bill Deposit and Universal Charge; and,

• The use of the Performance Based Rate (PBR) methodology to determine rate increases. The ERC has allowed excessive rate increases this year which ranges from 15% to 21% returns for the private utilities. These increases goes beyond the 12% ceiling for returns as stipulated in the Return on Rate Base provided for by the Public Utilities Act.

For his part, Josua Mata, a convenor of NAGKAISA, a network of labor organizations, explained the impact of high cost of electricity on workers and business. He said that locators in Mactan export processing zone (MEPZ) are threatening to pull out should their concerns about the high cost of electricity are not properly addressed.

“This threatens the jobs of 250,000 workers. This makes it imperative for the government to show us a roadmap on how to achieve affordable electricity and energy security,” said Mata, also the secretary-general of Alliance of Progressive Labor.

Aside from FDC, other speakers who expressed support to the November 22 National Day of Action were Leody De Guzman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Rene Dela Cruz of Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA), Jofti Villena of Faith-based Congress against Immoral Debts (FCAID), James Miraflor of Sanlakas and Gloria Santos of FDC Women’s Committee.

Aside from FDC, other organizations that support this nationwide action include: Akbayan, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA), Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), BISIG, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Faith-based Congress Against Immoral Debts, Kalayaan, Katarungan.

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), KMBM, Koalisyong Pabahay ng Pilipinas, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralita ng Lungsod (KPML), KUMPAS, Makabayan-Pilipinas, Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT), Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Piglas-Kababaihan, and SANLAKAS.

http://www.fdc.ph


Labor groups lambast power oligarchs in second day of protest against high power rates

By Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) - Nagkaisa

Labor groups belonging to the biggest labor coalition Nagkaisa! vented their ire in their second day of protest against high power rates on the country’s power oligarchs whose business empires are shored up by super profits taken out from the pockets of millions of captive electricity consumers.

In a rally held outside the main office of Meralco in Pasig City, Nagkaisa! leaders took turns in lambasting the big names in the power industry whom they refer to as the Voltage 5 for raking in billions of profits while consumers suffer the burden of paying one of the most expensive electricity rates in the world.

The Voltage 5 includes the Pangilinan group, the Lopez group, the Aboitiz group, the San Miguel group of Danding Cojuangco, and the group of Henry Sy of the National Grid Corporation.

Nagkaisa! convenor Leody de Guzman, said Meralco in 2011 alone earned a net profit of P14.9-B or 22% higher than what they had in 2010. Aboitiz Power netted P25-B in 2010 or 343% higher than what they earned in 2009. Likewise, profits of the Lopez group jumped to P24.8-B in 2010 or an increase of 186% from 2009. The San Miguel group on the other hand earned P16.7-B in 2011 or 31% higher from 2010.

“That’s P81-B of combined profits which is higher than the combined annual incomes of half a million wage earners in NCR and at least a million minimum wage earners in each regions of the country,” stated De Guzman.

De Guzman describes the situation as disgustingly unfair as he assailed the government for making it sure that power oligarchs reap the benefits of power privatization while workers shoulder the pain of unjust rates.

Prior to the Meralco rally today, Nagkaisa! also held a picket at the offices of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) the other day asking the body to defer the planned implementation of retail competition and open access this coming December. Nagkaisa! warns that the implementation of open access would lead to another round of increases in power rates.

The rally at Meralco participated by the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Airlines’ Employees Association (PALEA) and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is part of NAGKAISA’s “Season of Protest Against Bad Economics”, which the coalition launched early this week.

http://www.apl.org.ph


Akbayan supports the National Day of Action vs. Unwarranted Power Rate Increases.

By AKBAYAN (Citizens Action Party)

No to Meralco Corporate GREED!

Members of Akbayan party-list today trooped to the Kamuning-edsa branch of Meralco to protest what it calls “unwarranted and unabated high electricity rates” as it joins a “national day of action” against high power rates increases and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

Bringing busted light bulbs, Akbayan members highlighted the public’s growing discontentment against unabated increases in the price of electricity.

“Punding-pundi na ang mamamayang Pilipino. They are already fed up with high electricity rates and privatization of the power industry. It is high time that the Aquino government address this issue and give the people respite from this unnecessary burden,” Akbayan National Executive Committee member Francis Isaac said.

Isaac also slammed the EPIRA saying it only worsened the people’s misery.

"After a decade of EPIRA, the public is not only bearing the yoke of higher electricity prices, it also aggravated an already bad power delivery, and subjected the country to a serious power crisis,” Isaac said.

“Clearly, the EPIRA is a flawed power and energy policy. We hope the Aquino government will realize this the soonest and lead the development of a new roadmap for affordable electricity and energy security,” Isaac added.

The national day of action was primarily organized by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC). FDC said that different social movements and electricity consumers based in 55 cities and municipalities from 15 provinces and 10 regions in the country participated in the said event.

The other issues raised by the groups were:

• The privatization of Angat hydro-electric power plant (HEPP) in Bulacan, supply contract of Unified Leyte Geothermal power plant (ULGPP) in Eastern Visayas, and Agus-Pulangi hydro-complexes in Mindanao;

• The Senate Bill 3250, which was filed by Sen. Serge Osmeña, to extend the life of the Power Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. for another 10 years;

• The open access or electricity market under the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which is prone to price manipulation. In Mindanao, the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) is about to be implemented and the government has admitted that it will cause an increase by P0.03-P0.72 depending on what energy source is sold to the interim market. At present, the rate is at P2.94 per kilowatt-hour in the island;

• The proposed additional charges, such as the Bill Deposit and Universal Charge; and,

• The use of the Performance Based Rate (PBR) methodology to determine rate increases. The ERC has allowed excessive rate increases this year which ranges from 15% to 21% returns for the private utilities. These increases goes beyond the 12% ceiling for returns as stipulated in the Return on Rate Base provided for by the Public Utilities Act.

Akbayan Partylist

http://akbayan.org.ph

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