House resumes probe on Meralco power deals

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MANILA – (UPDATE) The House of Representatives on Tuesday resumed its investigation on allegations the extension of a deadline to comply with bidding rules favored Manila Electric Co.

The nearly 6-month extension by the Energy Regulatory Commission allowed Meralco to forge supply deals with 7 affiliates. The lack of competitive bidding raised concerns from party-list Bayan Muna that the agreements would disadvantage consumers.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said during a previous hearing on March 13 that consumers could lose P12.44 billion annually due to the supply deals.

“We hope to put an end to any speculation regarding anomalous undertakings or even midnight deals,” said 1-CARE party list Rep. Carlos Uybarreta, vice chairman of the House Committee on Energy.

Distribution utilities like Meralco should have had the “foresight” and considered the deadline for compliance with the bidding rules, Zarate said.

Zarate said Congress hoped to “take the necessary measures, not only for the interest of the affected communities under the franchise of Meralco, but in general for the interest of consumers.”

Meralco did not seek the extension of the window before new bidding rules could take effect, said its legal and corporate governance head, Bill Pamintuan.

A group of electric cooperatives requested for extension and about 90 power supply deals, including 7 from Meralco, were filed during the extension, Ivanna Dela Peña, Meralco’s head of Regulatory Management Office, added.

The power distributor said all 7 power supply deals “complied with all legal requirements.”

Watch the livestream of the hearing here



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