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PNoy told: Subsidize power rates

President Aquino may have to set aside a portion of the P130 billion Malampaya fund for the subsidy of Metro Manila residents who face having to cough up an extra P4.15 per kilowatt hour in their Meralco bills this month.

The subsidy proposal came from Senator Serge Osmeña who said the power rate increase will cost Metro resident at least P10 billion in additional charges, a move that led consumers and labor groups to stage protests.

Various groups are restive over what they call “unjust” and untimely power rate hike while several lawmakers demanded a congressional inquiry.

Osmeña, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said the more than P130 billion balance in Malampaya funds could be used to cover the amount.

“The Malampaya Fund has gotten very fat. It is time that it is used to ease the burden of power consumers,” Osmeña said in a statement issued on Sunday.

For the past several years, Osmeña has been recommending that government lower the royalty collected on the Malampaya gas to lower power rates.

He said it is better to spend the Malampaya Fund to subsidize power rate hikes rather than lose it to PDAF scams allegedly involvings several NGOs and public officials.

If the law establishing the Fund (Presidential Decree No. 910) has to be amended, Osmena said this can be done in two weeks.

All the President has to do is to certify the bill for prioritization.

Meralco has announced a total increase of P4.15/kWh (inclusive of transmission charge, VAT, local franchise tax and system loss) in its generation charge this December following the shutdown of the Malampaya naturalgas plant from November 11-December 10.

With the projected generation charge adjustment, a Meralco customer with a monthly average use of 200 kilowatt-hours currently paying P2,000 per month, will now pay P2,830 per month, or a monthly increase of P830 in his electricity bill.

The Partido ng Manggagawa said the power rate hike is unconscionable, an act of economic terror amid calamities, deepening inequality and poverty in the country.

“This is unjust. When imposed, the P4.15 rate adjustment will be the highest in Philippine history. This will also be the highest residential rate in the world,” PM said.

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