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DOJ, DOE start probe on collusion

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The Department of Justice and Department of Energy has started its separate investigation regarding the alleged collusion among power plant operators that implemented simultaneous shutdowns and triggering a staggered increase in electricity rates.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the DOJ’s office for competition was tasked to probe the power rate hike while the DOE already started its probe with a tripartite team.

The DOJ-OFC is tasked to probe all cases involving violations of competition laws and prosecute violators to prevent, restrain and punish monopolization, cartels and combinations in restraint of trade.

De Lima said the OFC will receive the complaint on the staggered power rate hike that will be enforced this month.

“As soon as I receive such complaint, I will refer the same to OFC for immediate fact-finding investigation,” she said.

Meanwhile, militant group Bayan Muna will try to stop the power rate hike by filing a Temporary Restraining Order on Monday or Tuesday.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said one of the grounds for the petition would be the alleged collusion among power plants, which will prompt Meralco to enforce the highest power rate hike in history.

Zarate said the simultaneous shutdown by power plants is an old tune to inevitably enforce the power rate hike.

He cited that there is a pattern made in cartels of power plants since 2011.

“Now these power utilities are singing the same old tune again. The Malampaya facility—supposedly scheduled for a maintenance shutdown only once every two years – is now being shut down almost every year, and, as always it is also accompanied by unscheduled outages of other power plants” Zarate said.

The Malampaya outage “has become an annual event and the consumers are always the victims and at the losing end. This is nothing but a modus operandi of a cartelized industry and the Aquino administration is not doing anything as it is apparently becoming its protector instead,” he added.

Malampaya to spare public?

Senator Antonio Trillanes is confident that there are other ways to solve the impending power rate hike by Meralco and spare the public from shouldering the burden.

Trillanes mentioned the Malampaya fund as a source of subsidy to lessen the power rate that will surely burden the consumers even more.

He said that instead of the government allowing private companies enforcing the power rate hike, the administration should use the Malampaya to spare the public of the staggering power rate hike. with LA Santos

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