Did Meralco defy SC TRO?
Manila, Philippines --- The Supreme Court (SC) was asked yesterday to require the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to explain why it should not be held in contempt for allegedly violating the temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the collection of the P4.15 per kilowatt hour increase that was approved provisionally by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on December 9, 2013.
In a motion, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares asked the SC to compel Meralco to submit a compliance report in connection with the TRO issued on December 23, 2013 that was extended for another 60 days until April 22, 2014.
Generation companies (GenCos) that supply electricity to Meralco have been stopped for 60 days from collecting the adjusted generation charges which was cited by Meralco in increasing its rate. Likewise, the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) was stopped from demanding and collecting the "deferred amounts representing the affected costs."
On the motion for contempt of court, Bayan Muna cited a report of former Rep. Teodoro Casino who said that the Meralco billing dated February 13, 2014, included in its "total amount due" the P4.15 rate hike restrained by this Honorable Court.
"The total amount due was in bold font and can, and did, mislead consumers into believing that the total amount due, as is usually the case, is the amount they should pay Meralco," the motion stated.
The motion pointed out that Meralco should submit a report that would show the total number of consumers who paid before the TRO was issued, how many paid as a result of the confusing billing format, how much is the interest gathered from the payments of consumers before the TRO, and how Meralco has complied with the TRO issued by this Honorable Court.
It also stated that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) even called the attention of Meralco on the inclusion in the latter's "latest" billing statements to its customers of the generation charges that are subject of the TRO.
It stressed that the DTI was referring to the items "current amount due" and "total amount due" that both appear in Meralco's latest billing statements. The "total amount due" includes the enjoined generation charges while the "current amount due" does not, it added. (With a report from Ben R. Rosario)