ERC told to protect consumers


SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday afternoon urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to shape up and take pro-people actions that would serve consumers’ interest from big companies under its regulatory power.

During the House committee on good government and public accountability hearing on exorbitant bills, Cayetano stressed this matter following complaints on electric bill shocks by Manila Electric Company (Meralco) during the lockdown period.

Cayetano said the ERC must work for the good of the people as instructed by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.

"I'd like to ask ERC and I'd like to ask other agencies here, sundan niyo ang ating Pangulo, ang ating Commander-in-chief, ang ating Chief Executive. Be more progressive in interpreting the law....we have to interpret this in favor of the public," Cayetano told the panel’s hybrid hearing, adding that the agencies must change everything wrong in government while Duterte is still in power.

Cayetano virtually admitted that he is not happy with the performance of ERC whose alleged leanings lately allegedly supported big companies under its supervision and regulation. "I've been watching you even sa iba naming hearing. Paki-review lang ‘yung nagiging stand niyo. Kasi maraming kompanya ang may utang sa gobyerno o kaya may mga pwedeng gawin para maibsan ang pangangailangan ng tao, yet parang kinakampihan ng ERC parati ‘yung power producers at ‘yung may ari ng kompanya," said Cayetano.

"I'm not saying you're not doing your job. Let me make this clear, walang kaibahan ito sa ABS-CBN. Just because legal ang ginagawa mo, that doesn't mean you're not abusing the system," Cayetano reminded

"I would like to advise all our government agencies, [even the] BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue). Huwag niyong sabihin lang na legal, tama. Pag-aralan niyo nang mabuti at sabihin niyo kung may mali," said
the Speaker.

Cayetano recalled that Duterte got angry  last year at water concessionaires for their alleged onerous contracts.

He said such agreements are allegedly similar to acts of economic sabotage and economic plunder.

"If ABS-CBN was a purely private company and using private resources, [there would be no problem]. Puro ‘yung airwaves are owned by the government. So in the same manner, itong kuryente, may public interest to, public utility din to. The same thing sa water; kung hindi pa dumating si President Duterte, baka magbayad pa ang gobyerno doon sa talo natin sa arbitration, ilang bilyon ‘yun," Cayetano recalled.

Maynilad and Manila Water decided last year to forego collecting the P10.8 billion worth of compensation that a Singapore-based arbitration court had ordered the Philippine government to pay the water firms.

In response, ERC Executive Director Floresinda Baldo-Digal vowed to work on the complaints of the people as the agency has been handling 50,000 complaints from consumers, mostly on electric bill shocks. "We commit to finish it we now have 70 people working solely on it," said Baldo-Digal.