Northbound Philippines News

Gov’t to study calls to pay indigents’ electric bills

MANILA – The government will study calls to shoulder the electricity bills of low-income families affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and parts of Visayas and Mindanao, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said while some electric cooperatives have already voluntarily absorbed the electricity bill for consumers who used 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and below and others are given discounts, suggestions for the government to pay for the electricity bills will need further study.

“Yung suhestiyon po nila ay pag-aaralan pero sa ngayon po walang ganyang suhestiyon (The suggestion will be studied but at present, there is no such suggestion that has been raised),” he said.

Roque, meanwhile, assured that there is enough power supply during the two month-long quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

He said the Palace will also ask the Department of Energy (DOE) to look into complaints of brownouts in Oriental Mindoro.

“Kakalampagin po namin ang DOE (We will promptly ask the DOE to address this),” he said.

The DOE earlier assured that there was a stable power supply, allaying fears of another power shortage which would cause brownouts.

Last April 15, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced that all lifeline consumers nationwide will enjoy free consumption of electricity to ease their plight amid the Covid-19 health crisis.

In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, Nograles said customers who consumed not more than 50 kilowatt-hours will be provided free electricity for the month of March to April.

Three million poor Filipino consumers would benefit from the electricity subsidy program dubbed as “Pantawid Liwanag.”

Pantawid Liwanag, a corporate social responsibility program led by the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA), targets poor electricity consumers affected by the health crisis.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said electric cooperatives are working on a program of subsidizing the electricity needs of lifeline consumers.

More than 90 electric cooperatives in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have provided a 30-day grace period for consumers to settle their electricity bills, on top of the cancelation of surcharges and power disconnections for late payments.

On April 23, Duterte approved the IATF-EID’s recommendation to place Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Benguet, Albay, Catanduanes, Davao del Norte, Davao City, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu, and Cebu City under ECQ until May 15 since these are considered as high-risk areas.

The GCQ, which is less stringent than ECQ, will be implemented in low-risk and moderate-risk areas from May 1 to 15.

On the other hand, the GCQ in low-risk areas may be lifted after May 15, should the rate of infection slow down.  Azer Parrocha /PNA –

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