Women’s group wish for Christmas? Cheaper, cleaner electricity
MANILA, Philippines — A women’s group led protesters against the “onerous setup in the generation and distribution of electricity”, saying that they would rather spend their bonuses on their loved ones rather than expensive electricity bills amid the Christmas season.
During the protest, the groups brought half-filled plates full of noche buena items.
In a statement, the group said that the act signified how the “cost of electricity is eating into their meager Christmas budgets.”
“Today, coal and other fossil fuels dominate our power mix not because they are the best option for consumers, but because contracts for these fuels are most profitable for private power companies,” said Oyette Zacate, spokesperson of progressive women’s group Oriang.
“Even as government officials, including the President himself, mutter promises of tapping into cleaner energy sources, even as the negative impact to health and the climate of burning fossil fuels become ever more apparent and vicious towards Filipinos, they find their promises hard to keep because the government handles neither the generation nor distribution of power,” she added.
Meanwhile, Flora Santos, coordinating council member of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), said note buena is “becoming a luxury” as families struggle to afford basic needs.
“Filipinos are known for their love of the yuletide season, and Christmas is one of the few times in the year breadwinners ensure that the table is filled a little more full than usual so their family members can have a good time,” Santos said.
“Costly electricity and other utility bills are taking away an important part of our culture,” she added.
Zeena Manglinong, Executive Director of the Freedom from Debt Coalition, also noted how rotational brownouts, as well as red and yellow alerts, did not stop power companies from raising electricity prices.
“This is possible only because privatization of power generation and distribution allowed power players to also act as their own policymakers. Consumers are thus left to fend for themselves,” Manglinong said.
Gerry Arances, convenor of the Power for People Coalition, said that the Electricity and Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2000 needs to be reviewed.
By doing so, Arances said that the government can hold power corporations accountable for “abusive practices” and pass legislation that would make the energy sector into a “pro-consumer” sector.
“When consumers are unable to afford their costly electricity bills, it is not their supply that should be cut off but the monopolizing power of private players,” Arances said.
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