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Sanlakas welcomes ERC’s move to extend no-disconnection ultimatum to Meralco

BUT NOTES ISSUES AGAINST THE COMPANY SHOULD BE RESOLVED
/ 09:44 PM October 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Political party Sanlakas welcomed the state regulator’s move to extend the no-disconnection ultimatum given by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) but noted that issues thrown against the electric service provider should still be resolved.

Sanlakas said on Wednesday that it should be understood that the extension being conceptualized by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is just a deferral of concerns plaguing Meralco.

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“Sanlakas welcomes the statement of Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Agnes Devanadera that they will issue an order extending the no-disconnection deadline of Meralco for unpaid bills during the ECQ to the end of the year,” Sanlakas secretary general and lawyer Aaron Pedrosa said in a statement.

“However, even if the ERC delivers on this, it must be clear that the move is not a resolution, but a deferral of the issues that must be discussed,” he added.

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Meralco previously said that they would allow customers with unsettled accounts dating back to the community quarantine periods due to the COVID-19 pandemic to pay their bills until October 31 or face disconnection.

The company, however, said recently that they are amenable to the needs of their consumers.  Then earlier, ERC announced that they are looking to extend Meralco’s deadline.

Meralco has faced a myriad of issues during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon and other areas, as bills skyrocketed — in some cases, over three to five times their normal consumption.

While Meralco drew flak, the company explained that these were brought about by several factors, like their personnel’s inability to do meter reading, hence resorting to estimates of past three months’ consumption.

As the months before March and April — December to February — were considerably colder, which meant lower electrical consumption, Meralco said there were discrepancies reflected on the bills that were now based on meter readings.

Aside from that, the utility company reasoned out that the summer heat and the stay-at-home policies brought higher electrical consumption for the almost three-month heavy lockdown.

Sanlakas said that these issues, especially the bill shock controversy, should be thoroughly investigated by ERC.

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Last August, ERC announced that it was slapping Meralco with a P19 million fine for bill shock claims from consumers.

“The people have had enough and acted on their own, expressing their displeasure at Meralco by staging simultaneous actions last week at different offices of the company.  For once, the government seemed to listen. And we will welcome it once we see the actual order,” Pedrosa said.

“But the problem is still there. For so long as Meralco is not held accountable, it will continue to overcharge, bill consumers unfairly, and keep money that should be returned to consumers. The fight is not over. The ERC must prioritize giving relief to consumers during this time of crisis and implement a moratorium on disconnections until consumers are served justice,” he added. [ac]

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TAGS: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, bill shock, COVID-19, COVID-19 pandemic, disconnection, Energy Regulatory Commission, ERC, GCQ, general community quarantine, lockdown, Manila Electric Company, MERALCO, nCoV update, Philippine news updates, Sanlakas
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