Meralco lauded for extending no disconnection policy

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) – December 22, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) was commended by a leader of the House of Representatives yesterday for extending until January 2021 its no-disconnection policy to millions of its customers.

“This is the best Christmas gift Meralco can give its millions of customers as we continue to fight the effects of this pandemic, both health and economic-wise,” Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, chairman of the House committee on energy, said.

According to the House deputy majority leader, this policy of extending the grace period – for the fifth time since August – will give its customers more time to settle their unpaid bills without fear of disconnection until Jan. 31 next year.

Arroyo, son of former president and speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, thanked the country’s largest power distributor for heeding the request of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to defer anew its plan to cut the power lines of customers whose bills remain unpaid.

The no-disconnection policy, though only targeting Meralco consumers with monthly consumptions of 200 kilowatts and below, will benefit more than three million electric consumers, comprising about 47 percent of the power giant’s customer base.

At the same time, the senior administration lawmaker appealed to electric cooperatives (ECs) and distribution utilities (DUs) all over the country to accord the same gesture to their customers.

In September, Rep. Johnny Pimentel said Meralco showed its good corporate social responsibility when it complied with the Energy Regulatory Commission’s directive to pay a P19-million fine as a penalty for alleged unreasonable rates imposed on its consumers.

“Meralco’s action demonstrates good corporate citizenship that should be emulated by all firms in highly regulated sectors, especially those enjoying exclusive congressional franchises,” the Surigao del Sur congressman said.

The power utility firm, which is the country’s largest power distributor, had since suspended its notice of disconnection to its subscribers four times – from July 30, Sept. 30 and Oct. 31 to Dec. 31 this year.

In his Dec. 14 letter, Meralco president Ray Espinosa informed the Speaker they are bent on granting his request for another moratorium and will thus extend their no-disconnection policy for non-payment of bills from Dec. 31, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021.

The decision to extend the grace period came up after “careful evaluation” and in consideration of Velasco’s humanitarian request.Velasco thanked Espinosa for “showing true bayanihan spirit and empathizing with the plight of our indigent countrymen.”

“This is how we overcome the effects of this pandemic, with leaders from both private and public sectors working together to make lives better,” he added.

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