Palace objects lifting of TRO on power rate hike as this is ‘contrary to public interest’

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Feb. 5 (PNA) — While the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said that their petition to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) imposed on the power rate hike would prevent future blackouts, Malacanang said Wednesday this was “contrary to public interest.”

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a Palace briefing, reiterated President Benigno S. Aquino III’s statement that unjustifiable price hikes must not be passed on to the people.

“…The proposed petition for the lifting of the TRO is not consistent with the public interest,” Coloma said, adding that the public interest was part of power generators’ corporate social responsibility.

He also echoed President Aquino’s earlier statement that the trigger for the significant power rate hike was foreseeable and that Meralco and other industry players should have prepared for it.

If investigation results showed that collusion was in fact present, Coloma said that the President was also willing to push for the provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

Coloma also said that as parallel investigations continue in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of the President will not interfere as it would like the probe to “proceed without undue influence.”

“We will do what we must to protect the interest of the citizens,” Coloma said. (PNA)