Party-list group Bayan Muna has urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to make the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) refund the P108 billion overcharges, over-recoveries, and bill deposits that it collected over the years.
“This huge amount of money should have been refunded to Meralco’s customers years ago. In this time of great difficulty and need, it is unconscionable for Meralco to continue holding on to these funds that do not belong to it anyway,” Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares was quoted in a report.
“It’s equally dismaying that the ERC has not acted on these Meralco violations despite the persistent complaints of its customers over the years. Meralco should do the proper and honorable thing by just returning the money to the rightful owners and applying it as payment or a Meralco COVID-19 Buffer Fund for electricity consumed during the enhanced community quarantine,” he added.
Colmenares continued by saying that if Meralco still fails to refund the overcharges, ERC should enter the scene and force the power distribution firm to return the collected payments to consumers.
“Meralco cannot even claim the return of these funds as its donation because the money is owned by the customers in the first place. ERC should prioritize enforcing the return of the customers’ money now when millions of Filipinos are displaced from work and cut from their source of livelihood,” he noted.
House Deputy Minority Leader Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the overcharges over the years would help consumers if returned.
“P40 billion to P50 billion in Meralco overcharges between 2003 and 2019, another P29.6 billion in Meralco over-recoveries from 2013 to 2018, and the additional P29 billion in Meralco bill deposits as of 2018, if given back to the people, will certainly go a long way to help them especially in this time of severe crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zarate explained.