House urged to support calls for new Meralco franchise

House urged to support calls for new Meralco franchise

/ 11:29 AM June 24, 2024

490,000 homes lose power in NCR area

STILL INSUFFICIENT POWER: A Meralco worker inspects electric meters in San Andres, Manila. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives should heed the advice of big business groups in the country to support calls for a new 25-year franchise for the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), according to Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

He said the letters of support from the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI), the Private Electric Power Operators Association (PEPOA), the Makati Business Club (MBC), and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) show wide support for Meralco’s continued operations.


READ: Group asks House panel to approve new franchise for Meralco


Meralco’s franchise expires in 2028, and the House Committee on Legislative Franchises is deliberating proposals for a new franchise, including one from Rodriguez.

“We are heartened by the letters of endorsement sent by the semiconductor and electronics sector and private electric power operators for the renewal of Meralco’s distribution privilege by another 25 years,” the lawmaker said on Friday.

“These are four of the country’s biggest and most influential business organizations. We should heed their collective voice of support for the renewal of Meralco’s franchise, together with related statements from some consumer groups,” he added.

On June 11, the committee received a letter from SEIPI endorsing a fresh 25-year franchise for Meralco. According to the group, granting Meralco a new franchise will stabilize the electric supply, which is crucial to the growth of the country’s semiconductor industry.

On June 7, Rodriguez said MBC and MAP’s decision to endorse the proposed new franchise indicates that the business sector wants stability, which he said is crucial since Meralco handles Metro Manila’s distribution area.

READ: Rodriguez: Biz groups back new Meralco franchise to ensure stability


However, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro asked whether Meralco has already addressed several concerns against the service provider.

“Is there a public clamor to immediately renew Meralco’s franchise that isn’t due to end until 2028? If there is such a clamor, what are the reasons behind it? Is their service exemplary or are their electricity rates low?” Castro said in a statement over the weekend.

“Isn’t the Philippines still among those with the highest electricity rates in Asia? This is a common complaint among businesses, especially during red or yellow alerts. What has Meralco done to address these concerns?” she added.

Castro also asked if there are other power players interested in Meralco’s franchise area, which includes key areas like Metro Manila and nearby provinces Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and parts of Pampanga.

“Or is the reason for the seeming rush to renew the Meralco franchise because oligarchs close to Malacañang are targeting Meralco’s franchise area? If that’s the case, they should come out in the open and present their proposal on how they can improve power services in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces,” she said.

“We have to tackle the bill as soon as possible to ensure continuous supply of electricity at an affordable price,” she added.

According to Castro, the franchise renewal process should be transparent, and Meralco’s performance needs to be reviewed comprehensively.

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“The welfare of the Filipino people should be at the forefront of this decision, not the interests of big businesses or political allies,” she added.

TAGS: House Committee on Legislative Franchises, MERALCO

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