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PIA Press Release

Arroyo wants ‘power price manipulators’ punished

Quezon City (12 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she wants to see everyone involved in price manipulation in the power sector punished as she ordered the Department of Energy (DoE) to look into the controversy amid fears it might trigger an increase in electricity rates in the coming weeks.

"I have instructed the Department of Energy and other government agencies concerned to look into the allegations of price manipulation in the power sector and to ensure that consumers will not be taken advantage of even as we map out preemptive measures against shortages or brownouts in the future," she said in a speech at the 8th National Convention of the Liga ng mga Barangay in Cebu City.

"Price manipulations are unacceptable and should not go unpunished if culpabilities are established," Arroyo said as she promised that the government will continue to find ways to stabilize power rates.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, one of Arroyo's economic advisers, had warned that power rates may go up because of "price manipulation" in the wholesale spot electricity market (WESM).

Three weeks ago, he said WESM prices shot up from P2.88 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) to P6.88 per kwh due to the alleged price manipulation.

Salceda said the National Power Corporation, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp, and Meralco should explain this.

WESM, created by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, works like the Philippine Stock Exchange where sellers and buyers make price offers for shares of stock of listed companies.

But Salceda said that unlike the PSE, there are only three sellers in WESM and few buyers.

The Joint Congressional Power Commission is scheduled to conduct an inquiry into the alleged price manipulation. (PIA) [top]

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