ERC to direct power firms to defer disconnections until end-2020
MANILA, Philippines — The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Tuesday said it will be ordering utility firms not to disconnect power lines due to unpaid bills until the end of the year.
Facing senators during a budget hearing, ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera said the commission is currently crafting an advisory that would extend the grace period given to consumers.
Currently, Meralco is giving its consumers until October 31 to pay their bills before their power lines are disconnected.
But Senator Risa Hontiveros asked the ERC if this could be extended until the end of the year to ensure that consumers would not have their power supply cut off during Christmas and New Year.
“Our people are still reeling from the effects of COVID-19. Nawalan na nga ng trabaho, or negosyo, baka maputulan pa ng kuryente ngayong Pasko. Paano ang Christmas lights na tradition ng Kristyanong pamilyang Pilipino?” Hontiveros said.
(Our people are still reeling from the effects of COVID-19. They lost their jobs or businesses and they risk having their power lines disconnected this Christmas. What will happen to our Christmas lights, which is a tradition for a Filipino family?)
“Bakit hindi pwedeng hanggang katapusan ng taon, katapusan ng Disyembre, para maging mas masaya naman ang Pasko, at mas puno ng pag-asa ang bisperas ng bagong taon ng lahat ng mga pamilyang Pilipino ngayon 2020,” she added.
(Why can’t we extend the reprieve until the end of the year, until December, so that we can celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in a happier way and full of hope this 2020.)
In response, Devanadera assured the ERC will be issuing an advisory easing the disconnection policies of distribution utilities.
“We are issuing, your honors, the advisory, and even before, we have issued advisories, we have always advocated for the relaxation of the disconnection policies of our distribution utilities,” the ERC chair said.
Hontiveros then clarified if the advisory would ensure that no disconnections will happen until the end of 2020.
“‘Yan po ‘yong nakalagay sa aming draft ngayon,” Devanadera said.
(That is what our draft says.)
Nevertheless, Devanadera encouraged those who have the capacity to pay, including government offices, to settle their bills.
“Sa kayang magbayad at meron pang pambayad…eh magbayad na. Pauli-ulit na sinasabi na sana naman ang mga government offices ‘wag nang ipagpaliban ang pagbabayad ng kuryente dahil may mga budget po naman tayo,” she added.
(To those who could already pay, please do so. I’ve said this repeatedly that I hope our government offices won’t put off paying their electricity bills since we have the budget.)
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