Palace backs Petilla stand on rate hike

MANILA – Malacañang is standing by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, saying it understands his predicament on the need for power distributors and generators to appeal the order of the Supreme Court (SC) reining in power rate adjustments.

“Secretary Petilla only explained that having a 60-day TRO (temporary restraining order) will definitely have implications on the payment of subscribers, and this will be reflected on their electricity bills,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over the weekend.

Coloma reiterated the national government always bears in mind the welfare of the consuming public, and only wanted rates to be “reasonable and just.”

At the same time, Coloma said Petilla still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Aquino, as manifested by his refusal to accept the energy chief’s resignation in relation to the restoration of power in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“Just like what the President mentioned earlier, he has full trust in Secretary Petilla. The government’s determination is very clear that we have to protect the welfare of consumers against any form of opportunism and abuses,” Coloma said.

Petilla received flak for maintaining the planned P4 per kilowatt-hour increase of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is aboveboard. He said the country’s largest power distributor has all the right to appeal the TRO if it cannot absorb its losses.



Militant groups and lawmakers assailed Petilla for his statement.

“I will respect the TRO. I’m asking them (Meralco and power generators) to absorb the cost but if they cannot, they can appeal it if they want to,” Petilla explained. “I am balanced.”