Latest Stories

Aquino says he has no power to stop power rate hike


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, left, speaks as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens during the joint press conference at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. AP

TOKYO – Giving the public respite from oil and power rate increases is not within the power of President Aquino to grant at this point.

In a chat over coffee with Filipino journalists covering his trip to Tokyo, the President said his hands were tied by a Supreme Court ruling barring the use of the Malampaya Funds for subsidies to power consumers.

“There is Supreme Court ruling that emphasized that Malampaya Funds [are solely] for development of energy, and the distribution of energy might run afoul of that definition by the Supreme Court,” he said. “Now, I’m still having the lawyers look if it is at all possible to use Malampaya for the purpose of re-establishing all of these distribution lines. But so far, the initial advice… is that the latest Supreme Court definition does not allow it.”

The fund cannot be used to repair power lines and transmission towers toppled by Supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas, he said.

As a last resort, Aquino he could use part of the President’s Social Fund for the restoration of power in Yolanda-stricken areas although he did not thnik there was enough left to cover the entire cost of restoring 250 transmission towers.

The government initially estimated the cost of repairs to reach P1 billion.

On suspending power rate increase, which took effect this month, Mr. Aquino pointed out that Energy Regulatory Commission, which approves power rate increases, was an independent body.

“ERC does not report to us, they are independent of us,” said Aquino.

The President said, however, he had some “doubts” about the reasons given for the power rate increase.

“But we want to make sure that the basis for it was correct. And right now there are doubts as to whether it was correct. It (maintenance work  power plants) shouldn’t have happened in that manner—without  alternative power sources,” he said.

The President has ordered the Department of Energy to check if certain power plant operators had colluded with one another to bring about an artificial shortage of electricity and thus hike its price.

The DOE is looking into this possible collusion among power plants that suspiciously shut down almost simultaneously last month, resulting in Meralco buying more expensive supply from the spot market.

He also noted that “spot prices” in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market were “the highest they have ever been.”

“And you have to ask, ‘why did that happen?’ And the question has been asked even before I asked Secretary Petilla [to investigate],”  the President added.

Aquino welcomed any move in Congress to pass a law that would allow the Malampaya Fund to be appropriated for repair of damaged power lines.

Related Stories:

Aquino urged to use gas fund to subsidize power rate hike

Meralco hikes rates by up to P3 per kWh

Malampaya fund audit explosive, says COA

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Benigno Aquino III , ERC , Malampaya funds , MERALCO , Politics , power rate hike

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  10. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US
  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Sports

  • Vietnam says it will not host Asian Games
  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • Marketplace