Protesters: SMC offer to Meralco a Christmas gimmick

Multisectoral groups under the P4P picketed the SMC headquarters yesterday to protest the conglomerate’s insistence on reneging on its fixed-rate power supply agreement with Meralco
MEMBERS of the Power for People coalition stage their protest right at the San Miguel Corporation headquarters against the conglomerate’s insistence on its fixed-rate power supply agreement with Meralco and passing P5 billion in losses to consumers.  | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF P4P
MEMBERS of the Power for People coalition stage their protest right at the San Miguel Corporation headquarters against the conglomerate’s insistence on its fixed-rate power supply agreement with Meralco and passing P5 billion in losses to consumers. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF P4P

Groups opposing the power rate hike petition of San Miguel Corp. are not buying the offer of its unit South Premiere Power Corp. to break the stalemate over the Energy Regulatory Commission's dismissal of its rate hike petition which in turn, a Court of Appeals' temporary restraining order had suspended.

They called, yesterday, the conglomerate's move a gimmick to "coat their bad image the past days."

"The best deal for consumers right now is to uphold the power supply agreement which SMC has consistently sought to negate. SMC is probably just seeking to contain the fallout from the President's remarks about its moves, and so now wants to curry favor from the public," Power for People Coalition convenor Gerry Arances indicated.

"Christmas is too precious to be held hostage by any corporation," Arances added.

The TRO aside from halting the ERC dismissal of the rate hike plea, also suspended the PSA, a move which elicited concern from President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who publicly questioned the wisdom of the court decision.

On Sunday, SMC issued a statement that will essentially give Meralco full use of the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan power plant for a fee.

Both Meralco and ERC officials whom the Daily Tribune tried to reach for their views on a briefing from San Miguel Global Power on the details of its offer.

Multisectoral groups under the P4P picketed the SMC headquarters yesterday to protest the conglomerate's insistence on reneging on its fixed-rate power supply agreement with Meralco and passing P5 billion in losses to consumers.

Can't escape PSA

"We are seeking to save what's left of the joy of Christmas in a very difficult year. We want to be able to light up our homes without fear of higher electricity bills, to be able to enjoy a Noche Buena that will not be further reduced by the need to pay SMC," Arances said.

Arances also mocked the SMC's offer to make its Ilijan power plant's production, the same plant which is subject to the TRO, available to Meralco at "a fraction of its capital cost," to "help keep electricity prices as low as possible for consumers."

"That being said, SMC cannot just offer power to any distribution utility without a PSA. That's the law, unless of course SMC does not really care anymore about the law and will just do what it wants.

Given its refusal to abide by the PSA it signed in 2019 with Meralco, it should not be allowed to bid for any PSA in the future," he added.

"SMC is again giving out flowery statements in indicating that what it is doing was meant to ease the burden of consumers but the reality is that Filipinos will have to tighten their belts based on the possibility of higher electricity bills. The CA should immediately recall the TRO favoring SMC," Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairperson Leody de Guzman said.

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