De Lima supports removing cap on electricity bill discount for senior citizens
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has given the thumbs up to a proposed legislation to remove the cap on the electricity bill discount given to senior citizens.
In a three-page opinion, LML-L 2C15, a copy of which was officially furnished the House of Representatives on June 1, De Lima urged lawmakers to restructure the senior citizen discount for consumed electricity without having to pass the cost to other consumers.
Senior citizens currently enjoy a monthly five percent discount provided that the monthly consumption does not exceed one hundred kilowatt hours (100 kWh) of electricity.
Under House Bill No. 3169 authored by Buhay party-list Rep. Jose L. Atienza Jr., the cap would be removed so that senior citizens could still avail of the five percent discount even if they exceeded 100 kWh of electricity consumption.
“Anent the grant of a monthly five percent discount to the first 100 kWh of electricity thus consumed, we are of the view that the said measure is inclusive of a wider socioeconomic echelon of senior citizens. This department, therefore, fully supports the rewording of Section 4 (C) of Republic Act No. 9994,” De Lima said in the opinion.
“We note, however, the position of [Manila Electric Company] that the cap under Republic Act 9994 should stay and if the proposed measure would be approved, the discount will be shifted to another segment of the consumers. If this is the case, this department is of the view that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) shall also be invited to solicit their views on how the measure could be fully enjoyed by the senior citizens without shifting the cost to subsidizing customers. Relative to this, we likewise take the view of Hon. Rodel Batocabe to involve in the consultation process representatives from the electric cooperatives of the Philippines,” the opinion added.
De Lima added that “a quick technical study on the proposed P50 discount per month should be conducted vis-a-vis the economies of scale generated by the electric companies from the majority of its subsidizing consumers.”
The justice chief issued the legal opinion upon the request of Dr. Rogelio J. Espina, chair of the committee on population and family relations of the House of Representatives. Among the pertinent proposed laws include House Bill 3169 which seeks to further amend RA 9994 otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
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