Monday, April 25, 2005

NR0425:Civil disobedience against high electricity rates

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release April 25, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Email: paggawa@edsamail.com.ph, anakpawis2003@yahoo.com
Cellphone number 09213907362
Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Street protests and other acts of civil disobedience against high electricity rates and Napocor privatization well justified

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that unless it stops Napocor and other electricity firms from jacking their rates, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is facing a major political uprising this year and President Arroyo risks being ousted from office via another widely popular people's uprising. This he said in the wake of reports that electricity rates will increase a total of P1.04/kwh in the coming weeks as the Napocor jacks its rates.

"This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Malacanang is responding coldly to the justified demands of the public for wage and salary increases; but supports the moves of power companies for rate increases," he said. "The President has failed her mandate to protect the Filipino people and uplift their economic conditions and secure a better life for the general constituency. Her ratings have plummeted and hit the floor because of the new tax measures, the successive oil price hikes and her hardline position against wage and salary increases, and they will continue to sink."

Beltran said that without a substantial wage increase of a minimum of P125 across-the-board for all workers and P3,000 for all government employees, any increase in electricity rates will have a brutal impact. "Consumers and the rest of the poor and working people can dig no deeper into their pockets to pay for higher rates. It's been five years since the last genuine wage adjustment, but costs of living have steadily gone up on a monthly basis. Does Pres. Arroyo want Filipinos to turn to a life of crime just so they can get money to pay for high electricity rates on top of other rising household expenses?"

"Consumers are already angry and agitated against the high rates, and they're well aware that it's the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA law that's giving the legal basis for the increases. The main call is against the sale of the Napocor and the privatization of the electric and power industry." Beltran said that the mumbo-jumbo and other technical explanations of the Napocor, Meralco, the IPPs and the bureacurats in the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's energy and finance departments do not in any way soften the blow against consumers or make the rate increases more acceptable.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker called on fellow solons to co-author and support HB 2531 which repeals EPIRA and stops the sale and privatization of Napocor and the National Transmission Corporation or Transco. Four years after the passage of EPIRA, consumers remain at the mercy of the local electricity monopolies, their independent power producers, and foreign IPPs. Consumers are burdened with various anomalous charges automatically passed on to end-users by IPPs through the Napocor and distributors like Meralco.

"President Arroyo and the electricity companies can count on consumer uprisings, street protests and other acts of civil disobedience against the electricity rate hikes. Majority of Filipinos do not have a single centavo to spare for this increase in rates. This tact of jacking rates to hasten and justify privatization of the Napocor will without a doubt backfire on the administration, and investors will all the question the soundness of investing in Napocor and the Philippines because of the strong political turbulence that will erupt in the coming days and weeks against these rate hikes. Many Filipinos will not allow their electricity supplies cut off. It's unjust that what should essentially a social service the government is duty-bound to provide is a profit venture that's now killing dependent consumers."#

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