Visayan Electric urged: No disconnections, allow staggered payments for MECQ
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon is appealing to Visayan Electric to avoid disconnections to any consumer during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
In a privilege speech to the City Council, Dizon said electricity was an essential need especially at this time of the pandemic particularly for vulnerable consumers and low-income households who would likely be unable to afford energy bills and would be most at risk of being disconnected.
He said that the Philippine Senate through a resolution of Senator Risa Hontiveros urged power distributor giant Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) to extend its installment-based payment scheme for consumers, warning that stricter payment policies might lead to a “disconnected nation” that would make life harder for poor families and would derail efforts to revive the economy.
He said that the same situation could be expected here in Cebu City should the Visayan Electric Company, Inc. (now Visayan Electric) would start implementing power disconnections amid the economic hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the economic situation had been continuously aggravated by the reversion of Cebu City to a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) which would significantly limit people’s mobility and business operations.
“It is vital for the government to help ensure continued energy access by working with the private sector to enforce measure suspending bill payments and not to disconnect households during this public health crisis,” Dizon said.
“Without doubt, energy access saves lives and is needed to maintain health during this pandemic since households without access to energy face health risks in their daily safety and hygiene practices as well as deprived of access to vital information at this time when information about COVID-19 is obtainable online,” he said.
With this, he urged Visayan Electric to adopt a ‘no disconnection’ policy and offer flexible or staggered payment option schemes for consumers who were having difficulties paying their monthly power bills.
The City Council agreed with Dizon’s request and has sent a resolution to the energy utility as a request to offer staggered payments for consumers during the MECQ.
In response, Visayan Electric said in a statement to reporters on August 26, 2021, that they have announced since August 9, 2021, that no disconnections would occur during the MECQ.
“For the information of the good counselor, Visayan Electric has already announced last August 9 that it has suspended disconnection in its franchise area following the declaration of MECQ,” the utility firm said.
Visayan Electric also urged that those who were capable of paying their bills to do so under MECQ even if there would be no threat of disconnection to avoid the piling up of payments after.
The utility firm has not yet commented on allowing staggered payments to consumers yet.
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