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House panels summon Calida over move preventing Meralco to pay unsettled receivable

/ 03:15 PM March 06, 2020

MANILA, Philippines —Solicitor General Jose Calida has been subpoenaed by two panels of the House of Representatives over an intervention preventing the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) from collecting its receivables from the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

The House committees on good governance and public accountability, and public accounts said Meralco has expressed intent to settle their obligation to PSALM but could not do so due to a “Motion for Leave to Intervene” filed by Calida’s office.

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Meralco owes PSALM nearly P15 billion.

“The Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and the Committee on Public Accounts are jointly issuing a subpoena to the Solicitor General to appear and testify before the joint-hearing on this matter on March 11, 2020,” the committees said in a joint statement.

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Aside from attending the hearing, Calida was also ordered to provide “pertinent documents” including the said “Motion for Leave to Intervene” which was also filed against another power firm, First Gen Hydro Power Corporation.

First Gen Hydro Power Corporation owes PSALM P315.42 million.

The committees have been holding hearings about the overdue receivables of over P95 billion from various private corporations and cooperatives in the power sector.

Despite receiving an invitation, Calida failed to attend the hearings conducted on February 19 and 20.

“It was during these hearings that representatives of several corporations – most notably Meralco, which owes the government close to Php 15 Billion – manifested their willingness to immediately settle their obligations to PSALM but were unable to do so because of the motion to intervene filed by the OSG,” the committees said.

In a press briefing held on February 19, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor and Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said PSALM still has the following uncollected fees from private corporations and cooperatives:

Power and Universal Charges (UC) – P35.44 billion
Independent Power Producer Administrator (IPPA) – P33.62 billion
Others – P26.35 billion

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The committees underscored the urgency to collect the receivables from the power sector, saying that PSALM, which is tasked with handling government receivables from the power sector, would expire by 2026.

“Otherwise, the burden from its remaining obligations would unfairly be assumed by the Government and, ultimately and unfortunately, be passed on to the public,” the committees said.

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TAGS: Jose Calida, MERALCO
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