A group of people prepare a class suit together with a petition for a temporary restraining order to prevent the increases on electric bills.
The group, called Aggrieved Electric Consumers of Bohol, plans to file the case against the power distribution companies next week.
The group’s leader, Donald Sevilla, said they are not satisfied with the explanation of the distribution utilities in Bohol, because the VECO in Cebu and MERALCO in Manila did not impose an increase as high as the one imposed in Bohol.
Lawyer Lilio Amora Jr., who acts as the lead counsel for the Aggrieved Electric Consumers of Bohol, sent a letter dated July 4, 2019 to Commissioner Alexis Lumbatan of the Energy Regulatory Commission, seeking enlightenment regarding the sudden spike in electricity billings from the three power distribution utilities in Bohol.
The Aggrieved Electric Consumers of Bohol said they hope an inquiry or investigation be conducted.
Amora said the group hopes to “gather clarification on matters that do not seem right and pave the way for an inquiry or investigation to establish transparency and accountability”.
“As no sufficient notification was made, consumers were shocked by the sudden surge in monthly bills particularly for the period covering April 21-May 21 and subsequently thereafter,” Amora stated in his letter.
He cited an advisory issued on June 10 and disseminated to the media and posted on Facebook where it is explained that the increase is attributed to a ‘spike in prices of Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and line rentals by an Independent Electricity Market Operator’ which the group assumes to be responsible for line transmission.
“However, NGCP representatives in a media interview denied that they had anything to do with said increase nor did we hear of TRANSCO imposing an increase of its charges,” according to Amora.
He said they want to know if Bohol Light Company, Inc. or Boheco 1 and 2 have applied or petitioned for an increase in rates and if they had applied, they want to know its status.
“Invoking the Freedom of Information Act without prejudice to its allowed restrictions, may we know the contracted rates (PPAs) of our local DUs and its applicable attendant mechanisms to help us better understand the charges reflected on our electric bills,” Amora added.
For their part, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members Ricky Masamayor and Lucille Lagunay sought for an inquiry about the increase in the electric bills.
In his privilege speech during the regular session of the SP yesterday, Masamayor said “this kind of issue matters a lot to everyone since all-day round we are using electric power both in residential, commercial and even in offices either public or private individuals”.
“Nganong dako man kaayo ang saka sa bayronon sa kuryente, katuloon man ka pilo kesa milabay nga buwan? Masamayor commented.
He cited that the issue have been in the news and became the talk of the town because the “steeper increase of power rates” affected the millions of power consumers in the province.
“As a legislator and a consumer, I want to be guided and be enlightened on the cause of this major issue that we are facing now. I want that the questions of our fellow Boholano consumers be answered by the three power distribution utilities- -the BLCI, Boheco 1 and Boheco 2,” according to Masamayor.
He moved that the matter be referred to the SP Committee of the Whole so that the “abrupt and unexpected high spike of power rates” will be clarified and settled.
Lagunay shared Masamayor’s motion to have the matter tackled by the SP Committee of the Whole so that it can be given appropriate action.
“I rise on a matter of privilege to urge this august body to address the burning issue of the sudden spike of electric bills in the province of Bohol, as a rejoinder to the manifestation of our floor leader, the gentleman from Loon, BM Ricky Masamayor,” Lagunay stated in her speech.
She also cited the complaints of the affected consumers that “their electric bills have doubled and they have no understanding how this came to be”.
“The people are clamoring for the provincial government to take action to prevent the imposition of high electric rates,” according to Lagunay.
She also explained that since many of them have just assumed office as new members of the SP, they are not privy to any discussion regarding Bohol’s forecast of power consumption or power development plan by the previous administration.
“In order to make the appropriate legislative measure, we need to have a clear understanding of the facts and circumstances why this looming crisis is upon us now. Without such facts and clear understanding, we cannot take proper measures for the immediate, short-term, and long-term solutions to his problem,” Lagunay pointed out.
On this, Lagunay urged the SP to call a hearing, competent representatives from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Energy Regulatory Commission, WESM, Boheco 1, Boheco 2, BLCI, Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG), electric consumer groups, and other resource persons within and outside the provincial government who have expertise in the electric power industry.