Labor groups belonging to the biggest labor coalition Nagkaisa! vented their ire in their second day of protest against high power rates on the country’s power oligarchs whose business empires are shored up by super profits taken out from the pockets of millions of captive electricity consumers.
In a rally held outside the main office of Meralco in Pasig City, Nagkaisa! leaders took turns in lambasting the big names in the power industry whom they refer to as the Voltage 5 for raking in billions of profits while consumers suffer the burden of paying one of the most expensive electricity rates in the world.
The Voltage 5 includes the Pangilinan group, the Lopez group, the Aboitiz group, the San Miguel group of Danding Cojuangco, and the group of Henry Sy of the National Grid Corporation.
Nagkaisa! convenor Leody de Guzman, said Meralco in 2011 alone earned a net profit of P14.9-B or 22% higher than what they had in 2010. Aboitiz Power netted P25-B in 2010 or 343% higher than what they earned in 2009. Likewise, profits of the Lopez group jumped to P24.8-B in 2010 or an increase of 186% from 2009. The San Miguel group on the other hand earned P16.7-B in 2011 or 31% higher from 2010.
“That’s P81-B of combined profits which is higher than the combined annual incomes of half a million wage earners in NCR and at least a million minimum wage earners in each regions of the country,” stated De Guzman.
De Guzman describes the situation as disgustingly unfair as he assailed the government for making it sure that power oligarchs reap the benefits of power privatization while workers shoulder the pain of unjust rates.
Prior to the Meralco rally today, Nagkaisa! also held a picket at the offices of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) the other day asking the body to defer the planned implementation of retail competition and open access this coming December. Nagkaisa! warns that the implementation of open access would lead to another round of increases in power rates.
The rally at Meralco participated by the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Airlines’ Employees Association (PALEA) and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is part of NAGKAISA’s “Season of Protest Against Bad Economics”, which the coalition launched early this week.