Senator Win Gatchalian is again asking power distributors to take notice of pleas for leniency on the disconnection of power supply of customers who still cannot afford to pay their unsettled electricity bills in full.
Gatchalian has earlier called on distribution utilities, including Meralco, to extend the no- disconnection policy for low-income consumers or those consuming 200 kilowatt hour (kWh) and below per month until the end of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ). The policy is set to be lifted on January 31, 2021.
This time, the Senate Energy Committee Chairman is appealing to utility companies to seriously consider other consumers on a case-to-case basis such as senior citizen customers, persons with disabilities (PWDs), displaced workers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that have ceased operations since last year.
A Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) survey conducted in August to September last year showed that of the 1.5 million businesses registered with the DTI, 99.6 percent are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and 90 thousand businesses, which are mostly MSMEs, remain closed. Gatchalian pointed out that many consumers have experienced job loss or reduction in income.
“May iba pang mga malalaking kumpanya ang nag-anunsiyo ng pagsasara kaya madadagdagan pa ang listahan ng mga mawawalan ng trabaho. Sana ay bigyan naman sila ng konsiderasyon. Ang mga ito ay kadalasang mga consumers din na higit sa 200 kilowatt hour ang kunsumo ng kuryente kada buwan,” Gatchalian stressed.
In announcing that it will no longer extend its no-disconnection policy, Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said that they’re trying to find a middle ground and solutions for all their customers who have difficulty paying their accumulated bills.
“While I empathize with the distribution utilities that they have financial obligations as well, I don’t think it would make a dent in their collections if they would leave out those who really cannot afford to pay even a fraction of their outstanding bills,” Gatchalian said.