Meralco’s P3-M donation passed on to consumers

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Is Meralco’s reported P3-million donation to the UP College of Engineering connected in any way to its awarding Meralco president Jesus Francisco as its “Most Outstanding Alumnus” for 2008?

Meralco customers, according to a consumer advocacy group, would want to know the answer to this and to many other questionable donations being made by Meralco on the pretext of “corporate social responsibility.”

Pete Ilagan, president of the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore), said the Lopezes who control Meralco cannot take liberty with the assets of the company by donating them away.

Ilagan said that while the intention may be noble, the Lopezes must take from their own pockets any donations they like to make, instead of taking them from Meralco.

“Meralco’s donations are shouldered by Meralco customers. This is yet another form of system loss for consumers just so the Lopez family can stake a claim to being philanthropists,” said Ilagan.

“There’s nothing wrong with philanthropy, but it should not be at the expense of poor Meralco customers,” said Ilagan.

Nasecore had complained to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) about the matter in a letter dated Sept. 30, addressed to ERC chair Zenaida Cruz-Ducut.

Ilagan said Nasecore has interest in the donations because they may be part of the P899 million which is the subject of a syndicated estafa case Nasecore filed against Meralco.

Aside from the reported P3 million donation to the UP College of Engineering, Nasecore also asked ERC to look into Meralco’s land donation to Ateneo in 2005 for the construction of the Ateneo School of Medicine.

The donated land was reportedly inside the Meralco compound in Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City, adjacent to the Medical City Hospital.

Nasecore also questioned Meralco’s donation of seven so-called Sibol Schools through Gawad Kalinga as reported on page 30 of its 2007 Annual Report, but which did not mention the amount of donation involved.