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Subsidize power rates, Palace pressed

SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday demanded that President Benigno Aquino III pressure the government to subsidize the coming increase in the cost of electricity instead of burdening the consuming public.

“Let us apply political pressure,” Trillanes, a presidential ally, told DZBB radio.

“Because if we are just talking here about P10 billion, instead of passing [the burden] to the public you [Aquino should] take charge, since this was because of your fault.

“To begin with, this was due to the fault of the Energy Regulatory Commission or the Department of Energy, whatever. It’s the government.”

Trillanes slammed Aquino’s claim that he could not do anything about the huge increase in the power rates that Manila Electric Co. would be charging. He said Aquino could do anything if he wanted.

“I read his statement wherein he said he can’t tap the Malampaya funds to subsidize the additional cost of electricity due to the Supreme Court ruling,” Trillanes said.

“That’s his interpretation. It was never stated there [the Supreme Court ruling] that the Malampaya funds can’t be used to subsidize [electricity].

“He should do it and then it’s up to the Supreme Court to say if it’s prohibited. Let us see if it is not allowed. Let us apply political pressure here.

“You [Aquino] do it first. Who will question you to begin with? Just do it. Let us help each other do this. We need political pressure here so that the power industry players will hear us.”

Trillanes said that after subsidizing the increase in the cost of power, the government could later on demand payment from the private power plant operators.

“But initially, you have to take charge whether you get it from Malampaya or the savings of any government agency. Take charge because of its big impact,” Trillanes said.

He said no one seemed to be concerned about the people’s plight.

“It’s just easy for them [the power producers] to increase prices,” Trillanes said.

“Now we also have an increase in the fares of the MRT and LRT, which will hit students and ordinary workers. That’s just like that—in order to get rid of problems they will pass the burden to the public.”

Trillanes said he wanted to know from a Senate inquiry if the Filipinos could still hope to address the problem of the high cost of electricity as a result of the government’s failure to act on the high cost of power in the past three-and-a-half years.

He said he wanted to know from the Department of Energy if it had any plans to lower the cost of electricity.

“Do we no longer have hope for this in the next three years under President Aquino?” he said.

 

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