High electricity rates: Senatorial hopeful wants review of EPIRA

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MENDIOLA, MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2019/08/26: FILE PHOTO: Elmer Labog, United Workers spokesperson speaks to the crowd during the National Heroes' Day demonstration on August 25, 2019. The senatorial aspirant is urging for the review of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 due to the current high electricity rates. (Photo by Josefiel Rivera/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MENDIOLA, MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2019/08/26: FILE PHOTO: Elmer Labog, United Workers spokesperson speaks to the crowd during the National Heroes' Day demonstration on August 25, 2019. The senatorial aspirant is urging for the review of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 due to the current high electricity rates. (Photo by Josefiel Rivera/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Progressive senatorial candidate Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog wants to review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 due to the current high electricity rates in the country.

In CNN Philippines' Senatorial Forum on Sunday (April 17), Labog, when asked what he would do to help lower electricity rates, said to review the EPIRA law which promised to lower power rates, a goal never achieved.

"For me, we will review the EPIRA law na nagpangako ng (that promised) lower power rates. Sabi magiging mura raw ang kuryente pero hindi nagkatotoo (They said power rates will be cheaper, but it never came true)," he said.

Labog also highlighted taking back the formerly government-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor), which was privatized by EPIRA in 2001.

"Ang Napocor ang isa sa mga crowned jewels ng Pilipinas, pero ipinagbili. So, wala tayong napala kundi mataas na singil sa kuryente. We must take back Napocor. Malaking pagkakamali na ginutay-gutay ang Napocor at ibinigay sa mga oligarch. Ika nga'y serbisyo sa tao, 'wag gawing negosyo," the candidate said.

(Napocor is one of the crowned jewels of the Philippines, but it was sold. [sic] So, we got nothing but higher electricity rates. We must take back Napocor. It’s a huge mistake to give Napocro to oligarchs. The basic services to the people should not become a business.)

The EPIRA, or Republic Act No. 9136, has introduced private ownership to the electric power industry.

According to economic research think-tank IBON, “residential power rates have risen by 68% from P5.76 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2001 to P9.68 in 2015.”

EPIRA also brought in the monopolization of the energy sector, with San Miguel Energy Corporation, Aboitiz Power, and First Gen dominating the market share in power generation accounting for almost 65% of the market, according to Ibon’s report.

In June last year, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution No. 746 investigating the alleged failure of the government in ensuring affordable rates since the enactment of EPIRA.

“Filipinos deserve no less than an uninterrupted and reliable supply of electricity at reasonable prices which EPIRA, through DOE and ERC, promised,” said Hontiveros.

The resolution is still currently pending in the senate.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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