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Congress urged to repeal EPIRA law

MANILA, Philippines - The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) has urged Congress to repeal the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

FDC vice president Manjanette Lopez said that 11 years after it was enacted into law, the EPIRA totally failed to meet its intended objective of ensuring the “quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power.”

“The Philippines has the highest cost of electricity in Asia. We are a poor country with electricity rates higher than more developed countries,” Lopez said.

“That is (high electricity rates) not acceptable. President Aquino must use his power to repeal this law and give economic justice to poor and marginalized Filipinos,” she added.

The FDC has been calling for a moratorium on the privatization of remaining government assets, including the Angat hydro-electric power plant in Bulacan, the Unified Leyte geothermal power plant – supply contract (ULGPP-SC) in Eastern Visayas, and Agus-Pulangi hydro-complexes in Mindanao.

The group also urged lawmakers to junk Senate Bill 3250 introduced by Sen. Serge Osmeña, seeking to extend the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp.  for another 10 years.

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Lopez said that lawmakers should look into the onerous contracts entered into by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) with various foreign and local independent power producers (IPPs).

Lopez said that officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should undergo a lifestyle check.

Last Thursday, the FDC observed a national day of action against “kuryenTIIS” to express their discontent over the skyrocketing electricity rates in the country and the privatization of the remaining power plants and supply contracts of Napocor.

It mobilized thousands of consumers from 55 cities and municipalities from 15 provinces and 10 regions in the country.

The FDC asked President Aquino, Congress and the members of the Congressional Power Commission to create a roadmap to address the problems besetting the power industry.

Ambulant vendors marched along the Elliptical Road in Quezon City while tricycle drivers led by the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Trasportasyon staged a noise barrage in Baseco Compound in Tondo, Manila.

“We cannot bear the extremely high rates of electricity. The businessmen in the power industry are too greedy, which must prompt the government to act,” vendor-leader from Sanlakas Josie Orioke said in Filipino.

In Marikina, several bikers led by TV personality Tado Jimenez toured the city, culminating in a picket in front of Meralco branch in Barangay Concepcion.

In Cebu, consumers held a caravan, informing residents about an impending power rate increase should the government push through with its plan to privatize the Unified Leyte geothermal plant.

In Davao City, members of FDC-Southern Mindanao staged a rally at the city’s Freedom Park, urging the national government not to implement the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM).

Mindanaoans have also been calling on the national government not to pursue its plan to privatize the Agus-Pulangi power plants.                        

 

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