Today, workers belonging to the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), together with Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa (BISIG), will join the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) in picketing Meralco and setting up a “Kontra PPA Tatak Center” at the Cubao MERALCO branch (near Ali Mall) from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. As a sign of protest against the Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA), the picketers would encourage Meralco consumers to have their electricity bills stamped with “under protest” markings. Similar centers will also be set up in different MERALCO branches that include those in Kamuning (cor. EDSA), North Manila (Gen. Na cor Tiangco St., Bgy. Concepcion, Malabon), and in Commonwealth Ave. (near Sandiganbayan, Batasan, Q.C.)
In a move to prop up her sagging popularity and to quell the public’s clamor for the scrapping of the PPA, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s has ordered the NAPOCOR to lower PPA charges to P0.40 per kilowatt-hour. But this failed to impress the protesting workers.
“This palliative measure entirely misses the point. So long as onerous contract with the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are honored, we would continue to pay for overpriced power that we do not even consume, and in some cases, was not even meant to be produced” Josua Mata, APL Secretary General, declared.
The President’s directive does not intend to solve the problem. Since it continues to honor its onerous contracts with the IPPs, Government is now scampering to find new loans to ensure these payments. This would merely shift the burden of subsidizing the inefficiency and corrupt practices of NAPOCOR, MERALCO and the IPPs to the future.
Scraping the PPA is the only solution!
Unfortunately, even the review of government contracts with the IPPs seems to be getting nowhere. Up to now, the IPP Review Committee has yet to have its own operational budget!
The PPA is more than just an economic issue; it is an issue of grave injustice. Why should the workers be asked to pay for something borne out of corruption and mismanagement of the government in the power industry? The workers could not simply reconcile the fact that they are paying for something that they have never gained anything from but headaches and more miseries. They could have used their hard earned money being paid for PPA instead to buy other necessities like food, clothing, and educational needs for their children.
The picket is just part of the workers’ escalating campaign to scrap the PPA and the contracts signed between the NAPOCOR and Independent Power Producers.
The Alliance of Progressive Labor is a national trade union center that embraces various forms of workers’ organizations in the formal and informal sector. It is a member organization of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).