Party-list group files ‘10 power bills’

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Party-list group files â10 power billsâ
This undated photo shows Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, representative of Sagip party-list.
Facebook / SAGIP Partylist

MANILA, Philippines — Returning Rep. Rodante Marcoleta and his party-list group Social Amelioration and Genuine Intervention on Poverty (SAGIP) have filed before the House of Representatives what they dubbed as “10 power bills” that will help lighten the burden of Filipinos.

Marcoleta, a former senatorial candidate, along with his colleague Rep. Caroline Tanchay made good their campaign promise to mitigate, at the very least, the impact and burden of Filipinos in their monthly consumption of electricity.

“Passing too much burden of incurring these system losses to the consumers is not only unfair, but also deters the power firm from prioritizing quality and reliable service, knowing that they can readily pass the charges on to the consumers,” Marcoleta and Tanchay stated in House Bill 160.

The measure, formally the System Loss Limitation Act of 2022, limits the cap for system loss from 9.5 percent to one percent.

“Through this, distribution utilities will be deterred from unduly passing the burden of shouldering losses to Filipino consumers,” the lawmakers said.

Other bills that they filed were HB 161 or the Value-Added Tax Exemption for Covered Electric Billing Act of 2022, which exempts low-income households with a total monthly consumption of 200 kilowatt hour (kWh) from the 12-percent VAT on all electric components.

HB 174 or the Act Prohibiting Cross-Ownership as among Distribution Utilities and Generation Companies, seeks to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and avoid monopoly by eliminating the allowance for cross-ownership in the EPIRA.

Marcoleta and Tanchay also filed HB 172 seeking the institutionalization of the Energy Investment Coordinating Council, which former president Rodrigo Duterte created in 2017.

Among other bills filed were HBs 162 (Green Energy Auction Act), 163 (Laguna Bay Solar Park Development Act of 2022), 170 (Enhancing the Implementation of the Net Metering System Act) and 171 (Act Authorizing the Development of Idled and Unutilized AFP Real Estates for Potential Sites of Renewable Energy Projects).

Reelected Leyte Rep. and incoming speaker Martin Romualdez had also refiled several measures, including his pet bills, among them the Internet Transactions Act, which seeks to grow e-commerce in the country by promoting an environment founded on trust among consumers and merchants online.

Romualdez’s proposal, contained in HB 4, aims to increase the number of e-commerce participants and ultimately achieve sustainable growth.

The bill cited a 2019 study by Google and Temasek, which stated that in Southeast Asia alone, the internet economy is experiencing exponential growth as total Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) in the region has reached the $100-billion mark and is projected to reach $300 billion in 2025.

The proposed measure noted that the Philippines had the lowest GMV in 2019 at $7 billion, lower than those of Malaysia ($11 billion), Vietnam ($12 billion), Singapore ($12 billion), Thailand ($16 billion) and Indonesia ($40 billion).

Meanwhile, neophyte Rep. Howard Guintu of Pinuno party-list also filed a bill that seeks to provide free housing for public school teachers.

HB 1041, or the Free On-Site Living Quarters for Public School Teachers Act, aims to lessen the burden to the country’s public school teachers who spend long hours of travel to their designated schools that are situated in far-flung areas.

Big relief

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)’s directive to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to refund to its customers P21.8 billion – equivalent to 87 centavos per kWh – will be a big relief to consumers, according to Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.

Gatchalian commended the ERC for the order to Meralco, as the directive will mean that for a typical household that consumes 200 kWh a month, there will be a P174 refund in the electricity bill beginning this month.

“This is a welcome relief, especially for poor Filipino households. It will make a difference amid the rising cost of basic commodities,” he said.

Meralco had been directed to execute the refund in approximately 12 months or until the entire amount is fully reimbursed to its customers and to reflect the refund rate as a separate line item in the electricity bill during the refund period.

The refund directive is the third since last January.

The ERC said Meralco’s previous refunds are to be implemented until 2023 and the updated total refund for residential consumers is now at P1.8009/kWh, including the latest P21.8-billion refund.

Gatchalian lauded the ERC for being committed to ensuring reasonable electricity rates through the exercise of prudent and equitable judgment, protecting the welfare of consumers and balancing the interests of all stakeholders.

“The ERC’s urgent order is a big thing, especially for those who are living in poverty amid the very high prices of basic commodities in the country. The mandate only demonstrates the power of the agency and gives consideration to consumers in times of emergency,” he said.

The SC ruling granted Meralco the authority to impose a staggered power hike to recover P22.64 billion from consumers. – Cecille Suerte Felipe



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