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House panel begins probe into high power rates

May 13, 2008 11:52am

MANILA, Philippines - After answering questions from lawmakers during a joint congressional probe a day earlier, officials from the Department of Energy (DOE), National Power Corp. (Napocor) and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Tuesday morning showed up anew to attend the House Energy panel's investigation into high power rates.

GMA’s Flash Report said that the inquiry at the House of Representatives began at about 9:30 a.m.

Officials from power distributor Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and National Power Corporation (Napocor) attended the House probe. Also, Energy Sec. Angelo Reyes turned up at the said probe to represent the Energy Department.

They faced 10 member lawmakers from the House committee on energy, headed by Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey" Arroyo.

At the onset of the House inquiry, Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel immediately asked Rep. Arroyo to inhibit himself from the investigation, saying the result of the probe could show the Arroyo’s administration’s culpability in the surging power rates.

Rep. Arroyo, however, refused to heed the lady lawmaker’s challenge and said he is merely doing his job, as he assured impartiality throughout the course of the investigation.

Going straight into the issue of the probe, Baraquel questioned Cyril Del Callar about the latter’s sentiment on Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

The Napocor president maintained his earlier position that the said law was “not a perfect law" and that he considered it as “anti-consumer and anti-public."

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro “Teddy" Casiño raised the issue of a higher power rates being charged by Napocor to Meralco.

The Meralco has been attributing its high rates to high generation cost of the electricity that they source from the Napocor. Also, they cited as another factor, the 9.5 percent system loss they had incurred in the past, which they are recovering by passing it on to consumers.

As of this posting the House panel went into a recess and the inquiry is expected to resume later, the television report said. - Mark Merueñas, GMANews.TV