SC urged to act on six-year-old case vs Meralco
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna and other members of the Makabayan bloc on Friday asked the Supreme court to update them on the status of their six-year-old petition against Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) power rate increase and how it can be resolved at the soonest possible time.
“We beseech the Honorable Court to issue directions as to how this case can be resolved speedily…Petitioners would also like to request for status updates as to (1) milestones and stages that the Honorable Court [has] accomplished towards the resolution of this case and status updates from Meralco as to the (a) number of consumers who were able to pay the rate increase and the total amount collected from them prior to the issuance of the TRO and (b) status of the refund to the consumers who paid the rate increase and (c) status of the unrefunded amount,” the petitioners said.
The petition was filed in 2013 by progressive party-list organizations through its then representatives Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate for Bayan Muna; Luz Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus for Gabriela Women’s Party; Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Party-list, and Terry Ridon for Kabataan Party-list.
They are seeking an injunction against Meralco’s P4.15 per kilowatt hour rate increase. Four days after the petition was filed or on Dec. 23, 2013, the high court issued a 60-day restraining order against Meralco and set the case for oral argument on Jan. 21, 2014.
The oral arguments were conducted on Jan. 21, and Feb. 4 and 11, 2014. After the oral arguments, the parties were given up to Feb. 26, 2014 to submit their memorandum.
On April 22, 2014, the high court extended indefinitely the restraining order it issued on Dec. 23, 2013.
The petitioners said despite the restraining order, Meralco has imposed several rate hikes from 2014 to 2018.
“These rate increases add to the burden of the consumers bearing the brunt of the implementation of the TRAIN Law and increase in the prices of basic commodities,” read the motion for directions, status updates and immediate resolution which they filed Friday.
They added that Malampaya is scheduled to be shut down again this year and the public should be given an assurance that there won’t be a repeat of what happened in 2013.
Petitioners led by Colmenares said the ERC in 2015 noted that it cannot order Meralco to refund excess charges in the electric bills because the case in the Supreme Court is still pending.
“Petitioners implore this Honorable Court to act on this case forthwith with a view to its immediate resolution if there is no more need for directions, and without prejudice to status updates from Meralco. As we have said before, so we say it again – there is no better time to do these things than now,” petitioners said. /ee
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