Gatchalian eyes Senate inquiry on power bill woes
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian hit the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) anew on Friday over power bill issues, particularly the unexplained high electricity rates for consumers, as he sought an inquiry regarding the matter in the upper chamber.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, chided Meralco for its failure to comply with its commitments to the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) that it would resolve the complaints of many consumers on the bill shock issue during the community quarantine as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
The senator said that he has sent a letter to Meralco to provide a status report on its compliance with its commitment to JCEC after his committee received more than 200 complaints regarding the power issue.
Gatchalian also sought an explanation and action plan from Meralco to address the bill shock.
“Noong huling pagdinig namin, talagang mahigpit na sinabi namin na importante na maintidihan ng tao kung ano yung binabayaran nila, basic yan. Gustong magbayad ng tao pero gusto nilang maintindihan kung paano binabasa at kino-compute ang aktuwal na gamit nila ng kuryente. Pero napakahirap intindihin ng eksplanasyon ng Meralco,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
(In our last hearing, we strictly underscored the importance of having the public understand what they are paying for, that’s basic. They want to pay but they want to understand how their electricity use is being computed. But it is so hard to understand the explanation of Meralco.)
During the JCEC hearing in May, Meralco vowed to send “very specific letters” to consumers in a move to explain the electricity bills.
Gatchalian said a review of 29 bills for the May 2020 billing period shows 19 bills lack clear explanation on the computation of the current billing period and if there are adjustments carried over from the March and April 2020 billing period.
Further, Gatchalian said 28 bills for the June 2020 billing period indicate that 16 do not have an explanation and some do not show the monthly consumption from April to June but only indicate the total consumption for three months.
In the JCEC hearing, Meralco’s First Vice President and Head of Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications Victor Genuino assured that they will “properly communicate as much as (it) can on how the May bill is rendered to customers.”
“Ang kailangan ng mga tao ay simpleng pagpapaliwanag, hindi naman yung tipong kailangang scientist pa ang magpaliwanag ng formula. So hangga’t hindi malinaw ang eksplanasyon ng Meralco ay wag munang maningil. Paano magbabayad ang mga tao kung hindi nila naiintidihan ang kanilang binabayaran,” Gatchalian said.
(What the public needs is a simple explanation, not the type that a scientist needs to explain the formula. Until the explanation of Meralco is not clear, they should not ask to be paid. How will the public pay if they do not understand what they are paying for?)
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