DOE hit over questionable directive favoring Meralco

By Melvin Gascon / 04:33 AM September 11, 2019
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Militant party list group Bayan Muna on Tuesday criticized the Department of Energy (DOE) for issuing a new directive that would favor giant utility firm Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to the detriment of Filipino consumers.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate assailed the recent DOE directive that, he warned, would defeat the May 2019 Supreme Court decision that ordered power distribution contracts to undergo competitive bidding.

“Now, Meralco can dictate the terms of the bidding and impose onerous terms that will discourage other bidders to the advantage of Meralco affiliates,” Zarate said in a statement.

Zarate questioned the DOE’s Department Circular No. 2018-02-0003, which repealed an old circular that granted the DOE and an independent third party the power to supervise Meralco’s bidding process to ensure fairness and reasonable power rates.

“The new circular not only disempowered DOE, but also allows Meralco to control the bidding process so that only expensive electricity supply contracts with its favored companies will win the bidding,” he said.

Stop the bidding

Bayan Muna has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to stop the scheduled bidding for power supply contracts, including the 1,200-megawatt Atimonan coal-fired power plant in Quezon province.

The Bayan Muna lawmaker expressed dismay that through its own circular, the DOE allowed itself to become a “passive observer” in the bidding process.

Zarate, along with Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, on Friday filed a petition with the Supreme Court accusing Meralco of manipulating the bidding to favor its own companies.

Other respondents to the case are the DOE and other distribution utilities, which are undertaking competitive selection process, pursuant to an earlier Supreme Court ruling.