By Jaydar Medrozo, Yati, Liloan
RECENTLY, the Aboitiz Group announced a country-wide “rationalization” of its workforce due to the effects of Covid-19 on the economy. This resulted in hundreds, even thousands, of workers getting laid off from the company. In Cebu, dozens of employees of Visayan Electric Company were affected and lost their jobs.
I am deeply concerned by this development, especially now that the power industry is under the microscope. In Manila, Meralco (Manila Electric Company) is being investigated by the Senate for alleged unauthorized charges in the electric bills of consumers.
The Energy Regulatory Commission reported that they received around 50,000 complaints. Majority of Meralco customers, currently affected by loss of livelihoods, had their bills increasing up to three or four times their usual bill.
Meralco’s actions show what consumers have suspected these monopoly distribution utilities have been doing all along -- focusing on collections and revenues -- more than providing affordable power and best service.
Cebu electric consumers must unite and monitor Visayan Electric. We must make sure it is not sacrificing the livelihood of its employees just to maintain its revenues and profits for its owners. They must be made to answer for any poor service, delays in connections, and more importantly, continued increasing charges in electricity rates as a result of the layoffs.
The public is suffering already with the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in loss of jobs for many, and slow business. Utilities like Visayan Electric must not take advantage of the confusion and crisis by burdening consumers even more. Only an empowered consumer sector can prevent that.