Meralco urged to extend installment payment scheme for customers

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2021   •   339

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.

Hontiveros urges DA to focus on ramping up efforts vs ASF instead of price caps

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) instead of imposing price ceilings.

“The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others. Hindi na nakakatulong ang ipinataw nilang price control (imposing price control is not helping), so let’s look deeper than the surface,” the senator said.

Hontiveros noted that the DA is already boosting local hog supply by distributing mother pigs and feeds to ASF-cleared areas, however, hog raisers still fear subsequent waves of infection.

Instead of repopulation plans, Hontiveros said the DA should also teach hog raisers preventive measures to protect livestock from ASF. She added that the price cap is making it almost impossible for vendors to recover from the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and ASF.

“Nakararanas tayo ng ‘Twindemic’ —pandemya ng COVID-19 at epidemya ng ASF. Kambal din ang dagok sa ating magbababoy na nalubog pa dahil sa itinakdang price ceiling (We are experiencing a ‘Twindemic’—COVID-19 pandemic and the ASF epidemic. Our hog raisers are also experiencing twin challenges due to the price ceiling),” the senator said.

Hontiveros also proposed to revoke the imposed price ceiling to help affected producers and retailers recover from their losses.

“Dumadaing na ang ating producers at retailers. Ilang eksperto na ang tumutol sa pagpapatupad ng price ceiling. Bawiin na sana ito para makabawi naman sa lugi ang ating mga kababayan (Our producers and retailers are complaining. Several experts have already expressed opposition to implementation of a price ceiling. It should be revoked for the sake of our fellowmen),” she added. AAC 

Bawas-singil ng Meralco, ipatutupad ngayong Pebrero

Freema Gloria   •   February 8, 2021

Nag-anunsyo ang Manila Electric Company (Meralco) ng bahagyang pagbaba ng singil sa kuryente ngayong Pebrero nang P0.07 centavos per kilowatt hour.

Nangangahulugan ito na mababawasan ng mga P14 ang babayaran ng mga customer ng Meralco na may average consumption na 200 kwh sa loob ng isang buwan.

Nasa P21 naman ang maaaring mabawas sa mga kumokonsumo ng 300 kwh, P28 kung ang konsumo naman ay umaabot sa 400 kwh, at P35 sa mga may konsumo na 500 kwh kada buwan.

Ayon sa Meralco, ang naturang bawas-singil sa kuryente ay bunsod ng pagbaba ng fixed charges na ipinapataw ng mga plantang pinagkukunan ng kuryente ng power distributor. (ulat mula kay Joan Nano)

BOC, PNP urged to ensure no fake COVID-19 vaccines will enter PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   February 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to implement stringent measures to ensure that no smuggled or fake COVID-19 vaccines will enter the country’s borders.

Hontiveros made the call as she cited reports of Chinese authorities seizing over 3,000 doses of fake COVID-19 vaccines packed in saline-filled syringes, which they suspected were made with the intent to send abroad.

The senator stressed that coronavirus vaccines should pass through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make sure that these are safe for the public’s use.

“Pag hindi dumadaan ang bakuna sa FDA, walang ibang makakasigurado na ligtas ito. We need to keep watch of our borders like bloodhounds. Ni isang pekeng bakuna ay hindi dapat makalusot,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Our own authorities need to bust any plan to bring those fake vaccines onto our shores. Anyone willing to put other people in danger for quick profit should be apprehended and put behind bars,” she added.

She also urged the National Taskforce on COVID-19 (NTF) to step up its game in assuring the public of the safety of vaccines by breaking down its quality control and security measures.

“Ilatag na ang safety and quality control protocol at magdagdag ng security protocol para siguraduhing ang bawat isang dose sa milyon-milyon nating bibilhin ay walang halo at hindi peke,” she said.

“I expect the heads of law enforcement and the NTF to be on top of this. This is a grave concern of public safety and health,” she added.

Hontiveros also warned the public against getting vaccinated through the black market, and to instead trust in the national COVID-19 vaccination plan.

“Engaging in the black market is not only illegal, it is dangerous. Go through the proper government channels,” she said.

“The health and safety of Filipinos is all that matters. Let’s show the public that we are doing everything we can to vaccinate them safely and truly lead them out of the pandemic,” she added.

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