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[11 years of legal plunder in power industry via EPIRA] Workers bat for junking Gloria Arroyo’s first law

Members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno joined protests against the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or Republic Act 9136 in Mendiola this morning, saying the law legalized plunder in allowing power corporations to rake in profits at the expense of poor Filipinos.

This year marks the 10th year of EPIRA’s implementation since becoming the first law passed under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency.

According to KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, EPIRA’s passage into law 10 years ago was an imposition by the Asian Development Bank as part of the Arroyo government’s neoliberal program for the economy.

“For workers and the toiling masses, the neoliberal policies implemented by the Arroyo regime paved the way for unbridled plunder by foreign businesses in strategic industries. EPIRA illustrates how the government can easily disregard the peoples’ interests in exchange for favorable credit ratings and bigger loans from foreign agencies like the ADB.”

Labog stressed that EPIRA's promise of lower electricity rates was a sham from the beginning. It allowed the government to enter into onerous contracts with foreign firms by assuring them of hefty return of investments, whether the electricity they produced is actually consumed or not. Now, Filipinos who are among the poorest in the world are being forced to pay the most expensive electricity rates.

Labog challenged the Aquino administration to listen to the widespread clamor to immediately address the high cost of electricity in the country.

“Aquino must act on the problem of ordinary workers whose meager daily wage is being siphoned off by Meralco and other power companies. Otherwise, Aquino is revealing himself as an Arroyo clone whose sole purpose is to continue the foreign-dictated neoliberal economics of his predecessor.”

Labog also claimed that the problem of high electricity rates is also affecting local businessmen, saying these are a far bigger threat to profitability than increasing workers' wages.

“As things stand, power rates have made small- and medium-scale businessmen more inclined to close shop and bigger businessmen to transfer business to other countries. We urge the business sector to join us in the campaign to junk the EPIRA law, lowering power rates, and nationalizing the power industry.”

Reference Person: 
Elmer "Bong" Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 
0908-1636597

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