Manila, Philipines – President Benigno Aquino III and cabinet stated they are looking over on the opportunity of using the Malampaya Fund to ease up incoming impact of the highest electricity rate increase set to date be implemented by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).
Concerned Secretaries Jericho Petilla of Energy, Cesar Purisima of Finance, Butch Abad of Budget and Management, even Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and the Justice Department and the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel were asked by the President in seeking ways on how to use the Malampaya Fund to “cushion the impact” of the power rate increase.
The President, asked if the funds will be used to subsidize electric bills, said it was still hard to commit but could really be of great help if properly mustered up as per waiting for proposals from his secretaries.
Apparently, former government officials seemed not satisfied with the President’s statement.
Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno boldly went against the idea saying that the Supreme Court decision states that the Malampaya Fund be used in ‘energy resource development projects.’ With this comprising that those projects should encourage energy companies to develop new energy sources.
Moreover, he even stated that the act was a mock of the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s response in using the fund as a subsidy and not in energy development. Saying even more, the act would be unconstitutional, being not in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision.
Meralco announced last week that clients may experience the impending impact of the electricity rates rise as much as 2 to 3 pesos kilowatt per hour (kWh) in the coming weeks. In account of the month long maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas line and compulsory outage of other major power plants in Luzon. This incited President Aquino to utter statements concerning the matter.
Further, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) supported Meralco in saying that the company alone may implement the rate increase reasoning out that computation on higher electricity rates are based on a formula pre-approved by the regulator itself.
Still, Malacañan made an appeal on conceding to the efficacy of the power rate increase.