The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) wants the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) punished for violating the provisions of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers after launching the Prepaid Retail Electricity Service (PRES) scheme or prepaid electricity last week.
“Meralco openly violated the magna carta with the implementation of the scheme. We believe the Meralco should be punished for abusing and skirting the law. Access to electricity, just like water, is a basic human right. These are our political rights as a Filipino that cannot be waive by saying this is voluntary on the part of consumers. Meralco cannot do this,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP.
TUCP executive director Louie Corral explained that the magna carta protects residential electricity consumers by disallowing electricity supply disconnection beyond 3p.m. at any day during the week, any time during weekends, official holidays, when a permanent occupant in the house is sick and dependent on a life-support system, when the owner is not in the house and when there is a funeral wake in the house.
With the prepaid scheme, electricity automatically shuts off when customers ran out of load.
Introduced as voluntary and innovative last week, Corral also pointed out the prepaid scheme was implemented without public consultation and does away workers for it no longer require bill collectors, meter readers, linesmen, and branch office staffs.
“There are also no guarantees that the customers of the kuryente prepaid load scheme system are protected from the same ‘dagdag-bawas’ problems many experience with prepaid mobile phone service providers. The real issue here is that the price of electricity is high and Meralco is shifting the issue,” he stressed.
The scheme was formally launched last week by Meralco after several years of pilot-testing in Angono and Taytay towns in Rizal province.