By Angel De Mesa
LEGAZPI CITY – Due to the public outcry in the incessant rate hike, privatization and inefficient services of the electric corporation in Albay, progressive groups in the province launched People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rate (POWER) Saturday to uphold consumers’ rights and demand for better and accessible power supply.
According to Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, incessant rate hike, privatization and inefficient services on power industry in the country is due to the monopolization of the oligarchs.
“Power industry must be nationalized again, and government must take over the generation, transmission, and even the distribution of utilities,” said Zarate.
Consumers’ Rights Watch (CRoW)-Bicol asserted that Albay Power Electric Corporation (APEC) of San Miguel is illegally operating ALECO, stating that APEC did not presented any Concession Agreement to the member consumers before it takes over.
“For the past 4 years, we experienced the worst services especially the daily intermittent power failures and surges that resulted to damage to appliances and huge losses to businesses, erroneous billings, abusive operating procedures by disregarding consumers’ rights stated in Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers and consumers are threatened by Apec field personnel guarded by well armed police officers,” CRoW-Bicol stated.
These complains has already resulted to public outcry up to the call to oust APEC. “Sadly, here in Albay until now politicians are still deaf on the issue of electricity,” said President of CRoW Bicol, Toy Reynoso.
“In Malacañang, a moment of brownout is already considered as mortal sin, but here in Albay successive brownouts is just normal and typical,” he added.
Albayano consumers during the alliance launching last September 23 addressed their clamor on the power supply and services of APEC.
According to the complainant from San Andres resettlement Site in Sto. Domingo town, APEC recently confiscated more or less 10 conductor and drop wire at some houses in their village even those with sickness due to an alleged unpaid bills of the consumers. Unjustifiably, the personnel who conducted the operation already harassed and violated their rights as a consumer, said the complainant.
“We are talking to them properly but they were not listening to us. According to them, they do not care about the Magna Carta,” said the complainant.
According to Article 20 or the Right to Suspension of Disconnection of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers, disconnection of service shall not be made on any week day beyond three o’clack (3:00 P.M) in the afternoon, Saturday, Sundays and any official holiday.
It is also forbidden to disconnect electric service to a consumer when a family member is sick and dependent on life support system requiring electricity, provided with the medical certificate issued by a licensed physician.
The absence of the consumer may also affect the disconnection. Same as when there is a funeral wake of a deceased permanent residence of the premises.
National Union of People’s Lawyer here pledged to provide legal assistance to the consumers in order to defend and assert their rights.
Aside from the assertion and demands to consumers’ rights through public forum and assembly, POWER would also like to stage and address their clamor in the legislative body to a more progressive way.
Bayan Muna Partylist passed a bill to remove all value added tax (VAT) imposed in the generation transmission and distribution services and franchise grantees of electric utilities, same as the removing of VAT on system loss through the HB 1009 and HB 1616.
“Company cost must not be charged to the consumer especially to the generation sector,” said Zarate.
The party also demands to stop privatization on the remaining power assets of the government and also maximize the sustainable use of renewable energy sources and ensure energy efficiency.
“The government must ensure its control to the power industry and on our national sovereignty, but ahead of this people must also stay vigilant in order to fight for our democratic rights and wishes,” said Zarate. (BaretangBikolnon.com)