COVID-19 at ang Meralco

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MAHIGIT sa tatlong buwan na hindi ako nakapagsulat ng kolum sa pahayagang ito dahil sa COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-2019). Ang BALITA ay sumailalim din sa quarantine o lockdown tulad ng iba pang sektor ng lipunang Pilipino. Marami akong kakilala at kaibigan ang nagtanong sa akin kung ano raw ba ang epekto ng pandemya sa umano’y bigla at nakalululang pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco.

Ako man ay medyo nalito at nabigla rin sa napanood ko sa TV na biglang paglobo ng electric bills ng ating mga kababayan. Gayunman, huminga muna ako nang malalim, nagmumuni para malaman kung totoo nga ang paratang ng mga consumer sa biglang pagtaas ng kanilang bayarin sa Meralco sa nakalipas na ilang buwan ng lockdown o quarantine.

Nakita ko sa isang post sa social media ang pahayag ni Pastor Daniel Feliciano ng conservative Baptist Seminary Asia ukol sa Meralco bills ng Hunyo. Malinaw ang pagkaka-eksplika niya rito. Basahin natin. To all my FB friends na naka-experience ng sudden increase in their June bills. Ang FB post niya ay halong English at Tagalog:

“As a former Meralco Process Analyst who handled billings and complaints, and now a pastor, I am saddened that ill motives and insinuations are being thrown to Meralco saying things like “binabawi ng Meralco sa customers nito ang itinulong sa COVID-19, etc.”

Allow me to explain what happened to the “supposed increase.” Due to the lockdown, Meralco was not able to read our meters for 2 to 3 months. Our bills for March to May were “ESTIMATED ONLY,” the basis of which is getting the average of our past 3 mos. consumption. Now, when our meter was read this June, the reading reflected our TRUE CONSUMPTION. The present reading reflected minus the month with the previous reading shows our consumption. Please take note that our meter’s reading is cumulative, meaning it is not being reset every month. The June bill rectified the estimated bills. If you think there was a “sudden increase” in the June bill, it simply means that you were UNDERBILLED the previous months.

So may I humbly suggest that before you make any accusation to Meralco, CHECK THE METER READING FIRST. If you do not know how, you can take a picture and show it to me and I will give its reading. If the present reading is correct, it simply means that you consumed the kwh being billed to you.

Consider this, dahil sa lockdown, nasa bahay lang ang members of the family, expect natin na dadalas tayo ng paggamit ng mga appliances at electric gadgets, lalo na dun sa may mga aircons. Baka naman napasobra tayo ng gamit ng aircon at nung dumating ang “estimated bill” natin, inisip natin na ok lang gamitin dahil maliit lang ang bill natin. Kaya 2 to 3 mos, todo tayo ng gamit ng aircon, not realizing na hindi actual consumption ang ating binayaran. Kung kaya nag-isip tayo o nagtaka kung bakit biglang tumaas ang June bill natin.

It is understandable na i-complain natin yung bill ng ating mga churches dahil closed ito during the lockdowns but yung ating mga residences is a different matter. Nakonsumo po natin talaga ang naka-reflect sa June reading/billing.

Now as to may ma-aadjust ba o matitipid if ever we ask for rebilling or recomputation? Ang Meralco po ay nagbibigay ng subsidy to those using less than 100 kwh, so if you are consuming more than 100 kwh, halos fixed na ang rate per kwh. Ang puwede po nating gawin ay i-avail yung ibinibigay ng Meralco na installment ng ating June bill na payable for 4 months, fair na po ito.

Again, may I appeal, save ourselves from ill feelings toward Meralco. They are not doing anything na mapagsamantalahan tayo. What we need to have is a little understanding on how Meralco billing works.

May God bless us all.” Yan ang FB post na nabasa ko at para sa akin, magandang explanation ito para sa ating lahat. Mahirap na kalaban si COVID-19. Hindi natin ito nakikita. Suriin nating mabuti kung ang Meralco nga ay nagsamantala sa atin o hindi habang tayo ay naka-quarantine, nakakulong sa bahay at hindi makalabas. Sabi nga ng isang palabas sa TV: Bawal ang judgemental.

-Bert de Guzman