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Palace to wait for final SC ruling on power hike before deciding on subsidy–Lacierda

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda: Fallacy. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said on Monday it would wait for the final Supreme Court ruling on whether the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) committed grave abuse of discretion in allowing a P4.15 per kilowatt-hour power increase.

“The Supreme Court has always been the final arbiter of any case brought before it especially when the issue is of national importance,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement, after the high court issued a temporary restraining order.

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“We [will] wait for the Supreme Court to rule with finality [on] the power rate hike.”

Lacierda said the TRO would allow the court to “look into the legal basis” for the power rate adjustment.

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In the meantime, Lacierda said the Palace would continue to study the possibility of using Malampaya funds or the President’s Social Fund to provide subsidy for electric consumers.

“[It] has to be studied exactly how it can cushion [the impact of the power rate increase], first if it can and how it will cushion it,” President Benigno Aquino III had said.

The study was being conducted by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Caguioa and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

“Part and parcel of the study,” said Lacierda, was whether the PSF could be used to minimize the impact of the power rate adjustment, especially among ordinary consumers.

Critics have described the PSF as Aquino’s own pork barrel. It is partly funded from proceeds coming from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

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TAGS: Alfredo Caguioa, Benigno Aquino III, Cesar Purisima, chief presidential legal counsel, Department of Budget, Department of Energy, Department of Finance, Department of Justice, Edwin Lacierda, Electricity production and distribution, electricity rate hike, Energy Regulatory Commission, executive department, Florencio Abad, Jericho Petilla, Judiciary, Leila de Lima, Malacañang, Malampaya Gas Fund, News, Office of the President, Paquito Ochoa, Philippine president, power rate hike, President’s Social Fund, Supreme Court, temporary restraining order
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