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JUNE 16, 2020





          Republic Act
No. 11371 was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 8, 2019 ,  and became effective fifteen (15 )  days after its publication in the Official
Gazette on August 14, 2019.  The law was
primarily authored and sponsored by Senator  Win Gatcchallian and Congressman Lord Alan
Velasco . 


The hype  and nucleus of the law  is that the consumers will no  longer shoulder  paying for the stranded debts and stranded
contract costs of the then National Power Corporation , which has since been
transferred to another governmment corporation called the Power Sector Assets
and Liablility Management Corporation or PSALM .


In 2019, consumers paid a
total of Php 0.0971 /kwh .  As of date
the stranded debts amounts to Php 0.0428 /kwh. 
It was estimated during the Congressional hearing ,that for the rest of
the corporate life of PSALM , the consumers will pay an additional amount of
Php 0.86 /kwh.


As of date the consumers
continue to pay the stranded debts . And looking ahead , consumers do not see
receiving a reprieve and enjoying the benefits of the law. If at  all, and  maybe until year 2022 at the earliest, if the
intricate budgeting and appropriatons rules and regulations are complied with ,
by the  same government agencies who
crafted the Implementing Rules and regulations and are tasked to implement the


Taking the cudgels on behalf
of electricity consumers considering the 
stranded costs continue to be shouldered by the consumers, at the
beginning  of the year, on January 2,
2020, the Laban Konsyumer Inc. filed a 
Petition  before the Energy
Regulatory Commission  to stop PSALM from
colllecting  stranded contract costs and
debts from all consumers.


Our arguments simply stated
, Atty. Vic Dimagiba , Laban Konsyumer Inc. President said,  that  consumers should immediately benefit from the
law, and that  the protocols  and procedures in the implementation of  the law are solely internal amongst  the implementing agencies .


 Otherwise stated ,  Laban Konsyumer pleaded  as follows:


  Section 4 of the law said that the Malampaya
Funds shall be utilized for the payment of the stranded contract costs and
stranded debts . The reduction of the electricity rates was made possible by
allocating a  portion of the net national
share from the Malampaya Natural Gas project for the payment of the NPC
stranded contract costs and stranded debts . The isssuance of the Implementing
Rules and  Regulations should not be a
condition precedent to the entitlement of all end users to an immediate
reprieve   granted by the Murang Kuryente
Act . Consumer should not wait for the isssunce of the IRR. The consumers have
nothing to  do with the proper
disposition of the Malampaya Funds, which are essentially , the responsibilty
of the implementing agencies.


After receiving the Comment  from  the
Solicitor General on June 11, 2020,  as
Counsel of PSALM, DOE, DOF, DBM and Btr,   Dimagiba said that  the Murang Kuryente Act became increasingly of
no value to the consumers,  confusing ,
and raised difficult questions for the consumers.


In Paragraph 21 of the   Comment of the Solicitor General , it said Indeed,
consumers need not be flustered or bothered by the intricacies and rigors of
government protocols concerning this law. However, the establishment of the
procedures and requirements of the allocation and appropriation of the funds
under the Murang Kuryente Act , through the issuance of the IRR , is essential
for the orderly, systematic , effective and efficient implementation  of the Act.


In addition,  with guts ,  paragraph 24 of the Solicitor General’s
Comment ,  added to the confusion in the
implementation of the Act. The paragraph said 
that the use of the Malampaya
Funds  for payment of the universal
charges is merely permissible, not mandatory ,
as clearly provided for
in  the last paragraph of Section 4- the universal  charge for stranded contract costs and
stranded debts currently being collected may be covered by  the allocated amount  from the 
Malampaya fund subject to  the
implementing rules and regulations . It
cited Belgica vs. Ochoa , Jr. that  the
word may should not be construed  to
mean  shall or must .


And  cementing the
consumers  conundrum, and it appearing to
be supportive of the Laban Konsyumer Petition pending in the ERC,
 in paragraph 
30 of the Solicitor General’s  Comment, 
it  stated that  the Murang Kuryente Act likewise provides that
no  universal charges for  stranded costs and stranded debts shall be
collected upon the effectivity of the IRR. Relatedly,
pursuant to Section 4 above, the universal charges currently being collected
may be covered by the allocated amount from the Malampaya Fund , subject to the


As they say in
Pilipino,    Para kang pumapasok  sa butas ng  karayom 
, Dimagiba quipped.


Hopefully, the ERC decides
the case in favor of the connsumers. On the other hand , granting that the
regulator ,  ERC, agrees  with the Solicitor General, there is no firm
timeline when the consumers shall  enjoy the
benefits of  the Murang Kuryente Act.  Dimagiba asked,  A good law turns bad law?.



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