By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday renewed his call for the government to fast-track the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) for the Murang Kuryente (Cheap Electricity) Act.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate energy committee, said further delays in its implementation will deprive Filipino consumers of access to cheaper electricity.
The senator pointed out that the law should have taken effect starting December last year if only an IRR had been issued.
He said the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Finance (DOF) should have already issued the IRR Nov. 27 last year, or 90 days after the effectivity of the law.
According to Gatchalian, co-author of the law, consumers should have been spared from paying the Universal Charge for Stranded Debts (UCSD) and Universal Charge for Stranded Contract Costs (UC-SCC) since December.
“Ibig sabihin, dapat sana ay bumaba na ang bill sa kuryente ngayong buwan (This means the cost of electricity should have been lower this month),” Gatchalian said.
“The more that we are delaying the issuance of the IRR, the more we are denying Filipinos of having cheaper electricity. This is a total disservice to our constituents,” the lawmaker said.
Last year, Congress passed Republic Act No. 11371 — the Murang Kuryente Act — to make electricity more affordable to consumers by removing the National Power Corporation’s (NPC) stranded debts and costs that are passed on to consumers and reflected in the monthly electricity bill.
A typical Filipino household, Gatchalian said, is currently paying ₱0.09 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for UCSD and UCSCC in the electricity bill. Consumers are also expected to pay an additional P0.86 per kilowatt hour for UCSCC and UCSD.
But with the enactment of the Murang Kuryente Act, consumers will no longer pay the additional cost. Gatchalian said households consuming 200 kWh per month can save P172 per month or
P 2,064 per year, a sum equivalent to three to four kilos of rice per month or a sack of rice per year.