BY ROBERT B. ROQUE, JR.
Advent has come and, hopefully, it washes away all the negativity that 2020 has swept across the peoples of the world in the face of this pandemic.
In these times, I’d say it’s a blessing to be in the Philippines where the air of hope that Christmas brings lingers months before and weeks after the actual holiday season.
Hope is essential as we live in quarantine. Otherwise, all the restrictions, limitations, and protocols can be frustrating and, at times, potentially bring out the worst in us.
As a newsman for the greater part of my days, I’m no stranger to the business of bad news. In fact, there’s an adage in the industry that goes, “Bad news is good news.”
Recently though, I’ve come across a wave of media releases from cause-oriented groups – some claiming to be consumer rights advocates – picking apart Meralco’s payment of supposed overpriced generation rates and accusing it of padding energy sales by the billions.
The issues are magnified by Bayan Muna representatives in Congress as “deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable practices” that burden the Filipino consumer only to “satisfy the greed for profit of capitalists and power oligarchs”.
I’m a Meralco consumer and I’m all for protecting my rights, but before I jump the gun, allow me to entitle myself to my own experience and view of things these months past.
First, the environment for the power sector has been challenging just as it has been for most, if not all, our industries because of the coronavirus outbreak. Add to that the slew of natural disasters that wrecked power facilities, causing outages in large areas scourged by typhoons, floods, and earthquakes.
And yet, I can say that electricity rates have actually been stable and on a downward trend, even for most of 2020. The dailies and news websites I read support my observation, reporting that the overall power rate decrease for customers in the Meralco franchise area is well over P1 per kilowatt hour.
Meralco says it’s actually a P1.35/KWH net decrease in power rates, which means that the charges we as consumers are paying are at their lowest levels all the way back to three years ago.
Looking at the power sector as a whole, utilities like Meralco are challenged and working to lower the power rates to counter the trend of various products and services appreciating in prices. On top of that, power restoration operations and repairs following the recent string of typhoons are commendable.
Perhaps, alarmist groups should take a step back and look at the bigger picture minus the misplaced negativity, the agenda-driven accusations, and the misleading analytics that might be falsely throwing shade at power rates.
2020 is negative enough as it is. And as we reach the homestretch of this ominous year, I suggest a charge of positivity. Maybe instead of suspicions and doubts hanging in the air, it’s about time we hang our lighted lanterns and tinsel ’round the Christmas tree.
Watch the internationally-released Disney Christmas ad (FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS | Disney Christmas Advert 2020 | Official Disney UK – YouTube) and power-up some positivity.
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email [email protected] or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at Tempo – The Nation’s Fastest Growing Newspaper.