Explain 'bill shock,' Meralco told

Electric Meter

A HOUSE member said Manila Electric Company (Meralco) may be held liable if it failed to justify the bill shock experienced by most customers.

BagongHenerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said Meralco should satisfactorily address the double or triple hike in bills of the consumers otherwise it can be held accountable under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Meralco should be made to explain why it is not guilty of violating the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act following the surge in the electricity bills of its customers while the country is under a state of public health emergency and millions suffer from the economic fallout of lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Herrera said.

The solon also joined mounting calls for the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to look into the drastic increases in the monthly bills of Meralco customers during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

As one of the authors of RA 11469 in Congress, Herrera noted that the law grants President Duterte the power to adopt temporary emergency measures to respond to the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The law empowers the President to enforce measures to protect people from hoarding, profiteering, manipulating prices, or other practices affecting the supply and distribution of essential goods and services, including electricity,” she pointed out.

These illegal acts, she said, are punishable with imprisonment of two months or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.

At the same time, Herrera said that Meralco should respond to claims that its May 2020 billing merely consolidated two months worth of readings conducted on March 20 and April 20, and made them both due on May 29.

If these claims are true, Herrera said Meralco violated the ERC advisories on the deferment of due dates of billings that fell during the ECQ and allowing the payment in four equal payments.