Meralco extends no-disconnection period until October 31
Marje Pelayo • August 25, 2020 • 648
MANILA, Philippines — Power distributor Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) has announced that it is extending its no-disconnection period until October 31, 2020.
Meralco president and CEO Ray Espinosa on Monday (August 24) said this is to allow customers to save up and settle their unpaid bills.
The extension is an additional one month of grace period from the original deadline of September 30.
“Ito po ay bilang tugon sa inyong request na i-extend ko po ang suspension ng disconnection hanggang end ng October para mas mabigyan ng panahon ang ating mga customers na makalikom ng sapat na pambayad sa kanilang mga bills,” Espinosa said during the hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
(This is in response to your request to extend the suspension of disconnection until October to give our customers ample time to prepare funds to pay their bills.)
Espinosa added that the company will also provide a power rate discount amounting to P101 million as relief assistance to around 2.77 million lifeline customers who consume 100 kilowatt-hours (kwh) or less monthly.
This, according to Espinosa, was in response to the suggestion of the House leadership.
“Bilang tugon sa mungkahi ni Speaker Alan Cayetano, kami naman ay magbibigay ng relief or ayuda sa kanila na equivalent to a total of P101 million mula sa aming distribution charge. Ang pagbabasehan namin dito ay ang mga lifeline customers as of February 2020,” he said.
(In response to the recommendation of Speaker Alan Cayetano, we are giving relief to our customers equivalent to a total of P101 million from our distribution charge. Our basis will be our lifeline customers as of February 2020.)
“Ginagamit natin ang February 2020 kasi yun ang huling actual meter reading bago nagkaroon ng ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) at MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), at dito malalaman natin sino ang mga lifeline customers na yun na inabutan ng ECQ at MECQ,” he added.
(We are using the February 2020 as basis because that was the last actual meter reading before the imposition of ECQ and MECQ. From this, we will be able to determine the lifeline customers affected by the ECQ and MECQ.)
Customers have been overwhelmed with huge electricity bills in May and bombarded the company with complaints.
This prompted the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to flag Meralco and explain how it computed its customers’ bills during the period of the enhanced community quarantine.
MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has reminded its customers that the deadline for paying outstanding bills is on January 31.
Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said the electric company already provided sufficient time since its disconnection policy was temporarily suspended to help customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Zaldarriaga said customers can still appeal for an extension through Meralco’s business centers.
He added that they are mulling over the recommended extension of the installment scheme in paying power bills.
“We’ve already given iyong ample time. One year na ang—almost one year na magmula noong we stopped disconnecting since March and although, pinag-aaralan pa rin naman natin and on a case-to-case basis ay humahanap tayo ng paraan para tulungan iyong iba pang customers (We’ve already given ample time. Almost one year since we stopped disconnecting since March. Although we are still looking into ways to assist other customers on a case-to-case basis),“ he said.
Zaldarriaga also reiterated the importance of paying on time in order for the electric company to continue its operation and provide service to its customers. —AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on power distributor Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to extend its installment-based payment scheme to help its customers cope with economic difficulties due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hontiveros said implementing stricter payment policies might lead to a “disconnected nation” that will make life harder for poor families and derail efforts to revive the country’s economy.
“Hindi maganda na ngayong 2021, maliban sa COVID-19 ay magkaroon din ng epidemiya ng tanggalan ng kuryente sa ating bansa,” she said in a statement.
“Mas mahihirapan umahon ang bansa mula sa pandemya at sa bagsak na ekonomiya kung mas maraming Pilipino ang mapuputulan ng kuryente sa kanilang mga kabahayan dahil sa mga polisiya ng Meralco,” she added.
Meralco earlier announced it has begun sending out notices of disconnection to customers using 201 kilowatt-hours and more per month, and those who are behind in their monthly payments.
The power distributor also said it will be hiking power rates up to P8.7497 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) this year, which means that an average household consuming 200 kWh per month will be charged around an additional ₱55 in their bill.
Hontiveros said the disconnection policy combined with new rate adjustment in the generation charge is on top of the already high regular monthly electricity bills consumers must pay.
“Itong anunsyo ng MERALCO ay mistulang one-two-three punch sa ating mga kawawang consumer, na marami ngayon ay knock-out na sa mga utang, mahal na bilihin at kakulangan ng hanapbuhay dahil sa pandemya,” she said.
“Mas malaki na ang singil ng kuryente, andiyan pa ang panganib na matanggalan ng kuryente kapag hindi nakabayad ng buo. Baka maulit o mas malala ito sa ‘bill shock’ last year na inalmahan ng ating mga kababayan noong 2020,” she added.
Hontiveros expressed hope that MERALCO will stick to its corporate motto of “May liwanag ang buhay,” and work with the government towards programs that will prevent the denial of power services to many Filipinos who are struggling amid the pandemic.
“Electricity is an essential need lalo na ngayong may pandemya. Hindi siguro kalabisan na humiling pa ng makatwirang palugit. Bago ang lahat, kapakanan muna ng ating mga kababayan ang pangunahin na mas dapat inuuna, bago ang kita,” the senator said.
She also advised the power firm to work with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and explore the possibility of extending its debt restructuring program, which offers flexible or staggered payment options for consumers who are having difficulties paying their monthly power bills so that they could avoid disconnection.
“Siguro naman, hindi hamak na may kapasidad ang MERALCO, ang mga power suppliers at kanilang mga bangko na i-manage ang problema sa utang kumpara sa pinapasan ng mga consumers ngayon,” she said.
“Accommodating this installment-based payment scheme will also ensure that more Filipinos will not get disconnected and will remain as MERALCO’s customers, which will be beneficial in the long run,” she added.
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