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Senate panel coordinating with ERC to fact-check Meralco’s computation of bills

The Senate energy committee has requested the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to fact-check the issue on unusually high billings released by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) this month, according to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday.

"Nagpadala na ho kami ng abiso sa ERC para po tingnan ang computation dahil mayroong instruction kung paano i-compute itong billing na ibinibigay ng Meralco at sa buong Pilipinas, lahat ng electric utilities at cooperatives," Gatchalian said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

"Ang nangyari po kasi, nitong March, April, and May billing noong inaverage po nila napakalaki kaya nagulat ho ang mga tao... Nakikipag-ugnayan kami sa ERC para magkaroon ng fact-finding sa sitwasyon na ito," he added. "Sisiguraduhin ho namin na walang labis ang paniningil."

Gatchalian said that consumers should also be knowledgeable on computing their own electricity bills.

Earlier in the day, Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, said it is just for consumers to defer the payment of bills until Meralco issues accurate ones which should indicate "exact staggered dues."

Last week, Meralco explained that the latest bills received by its consumers in May reflect the full impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

"What was billed in May will be the actual of May which reflects full ECQ impact (people are on lockdown and consume more) plus the adjustments from March and April thus the higher actual consumption as reflected in the bills," Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said.

The March and April bills were initially based on the average consumption from the previous three months prior to the ECQ because of suspended meter-reading activities.

Residents of Metro Manila and other high-risk areas were forced to stay home since March 17 due to the ECQ to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

A modified enhanced community quarantine is in effect from May 16 to May 31 in the capital region and other selected areas, allowing some establishments to resume operations at limited capacity.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian also assured that the Senate panel on energy is monitoring the price of gasoline in the country which will increase for the third consecutive week this Tuesday.

"Ngayon ang buong mundo ay nagbubukas na... Pakonti-konti ay tumataas po ang pagkonsumo ng gasolina. Dahil sa pagbubukas ng pandaigdigang merkado ay pakonti-konti po ay tataas po iyang presyo ng gasolina," he said. — RSJ, GMA News