SC invites 2 UP profs to Meralco power hike oral debates

Dr. Maria Joy V. Abrenica

The Supreme Court has invited two University of the Philippines professors during oral arguments on Meralco’s controversial P4.15 per kilowatt-hour power rate hike on Tuesday.

At a press briefing, SC Public Information Office chief and spokesman Theodore Te said invited by the SC as amici curiae or friends of the court were Rowaldo del Mundo, a professor at the UP National Engineering Center, and Maria Joy Abrenica from the UP School of Economics.

“The amici curiae are expected to provide inedependent technical assistance on their respective fields of expertise to the Court,” said Te.

Del Mundo holds a Masters of Science degree and PhD degree in electrical engineering from UP, specializing in energy and power system engineering.

He is currently an associate professor in the UP Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, a post he has held since 1997.

“He is well-published and well-known in these special fields. More relevantly, in relation to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, he wrote the Philippine Grid Code and the Philippine Distribution Code that were promulgated by the Energy Regulatory Commission as technical implementing rules and regulations of the EPIRA to govern the power industry,” the SC PIO said in a statement.

Abrenica, meanwhile, has a PhD degree in economics from UP and is currently an associate professor at the UP School of Economics and director for graduate admissions and fellowships. She is also the director for Graduate Studies and International Economics Program Coordinator.

Oral arguments start

Meanwhile, critics of Meralco’s power rate increase faced 14 magistrates of the Supreme Court on Tuesday to contest the controversial increase, signalling the start of the highly-anticipated oral debates on the issue.

In his speech, Leonard de Vera stressed to the court the failure of the Energy Regulatory Commission and Meralco to have the controversial power rate hike published in the media, in violation of the due process clause.

“There must be notice and publication… We are here because… the Supreme Court laid down a postulate that the ERC cannot dispense witout the notice requirement,” said De Vera, who serves as legal counsel for National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, one of the petitioners in the case.

De Vera was referring to a 2006 SC decision that states that while proceedings for adjustment can be abbreviated, the ERC cannot dispense with notice and publication of the rate increase.

Fourteen of the 15 SC magistrates were in attendance during the oral arguments, with Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe inhibiting from the case. The SC Public Information Office did not immediately say why Bernabe inhibited herself.

Apart from De Vera, also set to speak during the oral arguments were Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate, also on behalf of the petitioners. — KBK, GMA News

Source: GMA News Online