TO SAY that 2020 is a challenging year is a grave understatement. We opened the year with the eruption of Taal volcano, which displaced thousands of families and disrupted businesses.
A few weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic came, practically closing the whole world and forcing us to live our lives inside the four corners of our houses. And as if these two events were not enough to bring us to our knees, succeeding typhoons battered different parts of the country, adding further deaths and devastation to many.
I’m tempted to represent our loss with statistics or numbers, but we lost more than that.
In the midst of the pandemic, of course, is the infamous Meralco bill shock. Who could forget the feeling they had when they saw their electricity bills in May?
As a consumer, I realized the importance of community-building and organizing to push for our rights as energy consumers. In my conversations with fellow consumers, I learned that the “Meralco bill shock” is not an isolated case and that they experienced far worse behaviors from electric cooperatives in their respective provinces.
Accountability is key. Every Filipino consumer deserves good, quality, and equitably priced services from energy providers. With all the challenges brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic and life in general, we deserve value for our money in the form of a transparent and reliable energy service.
We also agreed that we need to form a community that will enable informed collective consumer actions to ensure our welfare is promoted and protected. The best way to do that is to allow each one of us to understand that our law recognizes the importance of transparency and representation in key government decision-making bodies, including businesses that provide critical public services such as electricity.
This is where Kuryente.org plays this role of bringing consumers together to ensure that we will not be hoodwinked again by unscrupulous businesses, wherever they are in the archipelago. We also aim to address the historical divide between businesses, governments and consumers by providing an open, dynamic, and critical platform for dialogue, so we can all work together to build a nation within planetary limits and put human welfare over profit.
As Filipinos, we can do better and become responsible energy consumers for 2021, and this means more than turning off the lights when not in use. The beauty of today’s technology is that we can unite without physically congregating. Online petitions, complaints and information to raise awareness can be spread through social media just by a click of a mouse or a touch of a finger.
By working together as responsible energy consumers, we can push the energy industry players and the government to take responsibility, accountability and provide transparency to help ease the burden of our countrymen.
Together, we can make a difference and give every Filipino their right to access electricity. We can be powerful. We will take control of our energy system. Together we shall rise as one.
Our cry for transparency is a manifestation of Filipino’s desire to challenge the inefficient energy system that keeps us disempowered. We need to advance a just, equal and sustainable energy system where Filipinos have voice, power and choice.
May 2021 be the year for that.
Nic Satur Jr.
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