Junk EPIRA and end the regime that is a bane to the people

Ang Bayan
January 21, 2014

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 The unremitting power rate hikes are adding to the burdens of the long-suffering majority of the Filipino people. Since December, power companies have been demanding hefty increases in electricity bills, courting the people's rage.

Although the enormous power rate hikes have been temporarily put on hold through a Supreme Court order, such major price surges remain a threat to the people economically, not just now, but in the long term. For as long as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) exists, the people will always be at the mercy of the big comprador bourgeois conspiracy that controls the production, transmission and distribution of electricity.

The toiling masses are one in demanding the junking of EPIRA. In more than a decade of privatization under EPIRA, the Filipino people have been suffering from incessant power rate hikes. The upward spiral in the price of electricity is the result of the liberalization policy advanced by EPIRA.

Ever since EPIRA was implemented, power rates have risen without letup. In 2001, Meralco charged P4.87 per kilowatt hour (Kwh). By 2011, this had more than doubled to P10.30/Kwh. If Meralco's latest plans push through, its P4.15/Kwh power rate hike last December would result in an additional P900 per month in the bills of electric power consumers in the lowest rung. Power rates in the Philippines are among the ten highest in the world.

Nowadays, EPIRA is being invoked by the reactionary government to feign helplessness and to justify its refusal to undertake any steps to defend the people's interests against Meralco and other profit-hungry power companies. "We cannot do anything" is the favorite line of Aquino officials whenever the public complains against Meralco's petitions to raise its fees.

Under EPIRA, the government is prohibited from investing in power generation. The price of electricity is completely in the hands of the big companies that lord it over the market. The Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission are useless when it comes to defending the interests and welfare of the Filipino people. In fact, these government agencies are merely being used by power companies to defend their rate hikes.

The struggle to junk EPIRA is at the heart of the Filipino people's struggle against power rate hikes. It is linked to the struggle against the state's privatization, deregulation, liberalization and denationalization policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

It is these policies that are behind the relentless hikes in the prices of oil, water, rice and other basic commodities. These policies have been bleeding the toiling masses. They kill local agriculture and industry, resulting in widespread unemployment and low workers' wages.

The US-Aquino regime must be held accountable for persistently foisting such onerous policies on the Filipino people. It must be taken to task for feigning helplessness in the face of the Filipino people's grave oppression in the hands of the profit-greedy big comprador bourgeoisie and their foreign big capitalist cohorts.

In the face of such grave hardships, it is just for the Filipino people to oust Aquino from power and put an end to his corruption-ridden, antipeople, pro-imperialist and brutal regime.

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