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Meralco should explain unresolved bill shock; inquiry on power bill woes needed

Senator Win Gatchalian has chided the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) for failing to comply with its commitments to resolve the complaints of many power consumers over unexplained high electricity rates amid the government-imposed community quarantine.


MANILA, Philippines – An “installment plan bill” from power distribution firm Meralco to its customers shows how unpaid balance during the quarantine period should be paid starting June 15 with a six-month staggered arrangement, 2 July 2020. The Senate Committee on Energy has called for an inquiry that will take a closer look on the bill shock issue that continues to hound many power consumers. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Gatchalian, who is the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, has called for an inquiry that will take a closer look on the bill shock issue that continues to hound many power consumers.

The lawmaker said the committee has received over 200 complaints on the bill shock, prompting him to immediately send a letter to Meralco imploring the public utility to provide a status report on its compliance with its commitment to the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) as well as an explanation and action plan to address the bill shock.

Meralco vowed during the latest JCEC in May to send “very specific letters” to consumers explaining the electricity bills – whether there is an overestimation or underestimation in the computation. However, a review of 29 bills for the May 2020 billing period shows 19 bills lack clear explanation on the computation of the current billing period and if there are adjustments carried over from the March and April 2020 billing period. Aside from this, 28 bills for the June 2020 billing period indicate that 16 do not have an explanation and some do not show the monthly consumption from April to June but only indicate the total consumption for three months.

Meralco also made a commitment to the JCEC to undertake continuous consumer education on bills covering the period of the community quarantine.

“Noong huling pagdinig namin, talagang mahigpit na sinabi namin na importante na maintidihan ng tao kung ano yung binabayaran nila, basic yan. Gustong magbayad ng tao pero gusto nilang maintindihan kung paano binabasa at kino-compute ang aktuwal na gamit nila ng kuryente. Pero napakahirap intindihin ng explanasyon ng Meralco,” Gatchalian pointed out.

“Ang kailangan ng mga tao ay simpleng pagpapaliwanag, hindi naman yung tipong kailangang scientist pa ang magpaliwanag ng formula. So hangga’t hindi malinaw ang eksplanasyon ng Meralco ay wag munang maningil. Paano magbabayad ang mga tao kung hindi nila naiintidihan ang kanilang binabayaran,” he concluded.