Consumers led by the Power for People Coalition on Wednesday expressed support to the declaration of the Energy Regulatory Commission extending the “no-disconnection” policy for non-paying customers until the end of the year.
“Once ERC delivers on its promise, it would give breathing space to all Filipinos who have to worry about their electric bills even as they battle the pandemic, online schooling for their children, and possible loss of their livelihoods,” P4P convenor Gerry Arances said in a statement.
P4P led a mass mobilization of Manila Electric Co. consumers in the previous week to push for the extension of the no-disconnection policy which was supposed to lapse by Oct. 31.
P4P is conducting an online petition campaign called #TigilBayad, which seeks a moratorium on payment for bills issued during the enhanced community quarantine, a more flexible payment scheme, a return of all pending refunds, reforms in Meralco billing practices and an independent audit of the distribution utility.
ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera told the Senate panel on Tuesday that the commission would soon ask electric cooperatives and distribution utilities to extend the “no-disconnection” notice until the end of the year to help consumers cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is what we put in the draft…We will also follow the spirit of the laws,” ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera said during the hearing, when asked by Senator Risa Hontiveros if consumers could expect the disconnection deadline to be extended.
Hontiveros expressed concern over the plight consumers who were affected by the pandemic and who could not afford to lose electricity while staying at home for work and school.
“We have actually drafted the advisory that will require that we defer the disconnection due to non-payment,” Devanadera said in response to a separate query from Senator Imee Marcos.
“We also want to recognize that many distribution utilities on their own and not even waiting for Bayanihan 2 and not even waiting for instructions or advisories from ERC, have declared their ‘no disconnection’ up to a certain time. We have actually advocated that the disconnection policies of the distribution utilities be relaxed,” Devanadera said.