AKO OFW group on Tuesday called on the government to be more proactive in protecting consumers from rising power rates by utilizing the Malampaya fund.
Long-time OFW advocate Dr. Chie Umandap said families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are burdened by increasing prices of goods and services and higher electricity costs in the Philippines.
“OFWs are working hard to give their families comfortable lives, but the higher cost of living brought about by the rising cost of products and services in the country continue burden them,” said Dr. Umandap.
Dr. Umandap said subsidizing electricity rates, not only in Metro Manila but the entire country, will benefit OFWs who sacrifice their time away from their families to earn more and support their needs.
AKO OFW said electricity rates in the Philippines can go as high as P15 per kilowatt-hour, especially in areas outside Metro Manila.
It added that government can go beyond warning about rising power rates and do something more concrete to mitigate the expected increases in the coming months.
“It is important for the government to step up and help the burdened consumers by immediately utilizing the Malampaya fund to subsidize the electricity bills,” Umandap said.
“Malampaya fund came from royalties government got from the electricity costs consumers paid in the past. It is just fair for these funds to benefit consumers and shield them from the rising power costs,” he added.
AKO OFW cited Meralco’s recent announcement that its electricity rate this month will be collected in tranches mitigating the increase which stands at 53.63 centavos per kWh.
The power distributor, however, said the increase would have been higher if not for its coordination with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and its suppliers to defer some generation costs.
“We appreciate Meralco’s initiative to somehow lessen the burden on its customers through the deferral and staggering of the costs,” said Dr. Umandap.
And while this will benefit Meralco customers, mitigating the impact of these electricity rate increases should also extend to other Filipinos that are not covered by Meralco’s franchise area. Other power distributors and electric coops must do the same.
“A more humanitarian action from the government is warranted, especially with the continuing rise in global fuel prices that affects power suppliers of other private distributors and electric cooperatives in the country,” added Dr. Umandap.
Based on latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, around 8% of OFWs came from National Capital Region; while around 54% were from the rest of Luzon. Some 21% of OFWs in 2020 were from Mindanao, and 17% were from Visayas.
AKO OFW, which stands for Advocates and Keepers of Overseas Filipino Workers, was founded by OFW advocate Dr. Chie Umandap, a former OWWA Board of Trustee who used to be an OFW in the Middle East.