Activist groups in Negros staged a protest action on November 24 to denounce the existing energy policies and call for just transition from dirty energy sources to renewables.
In a statement, the groups said the country’s policies and systems in the power sector “promote destructive and costly energy” but fail to protect the interest of the consumers.
The groups urged the government to review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and begin to “put forward energy development directions that will empower end-users while advancing sustainability and affordability of electricity.”
“Two decades of EPIRA brought us nowhere near its promise of healthy competition among private players and least-cost electricity for consumers,” said Griderick Alila, coordinator of the group Konsyumer Negros.
Alila said the energy policy has plunged the consumers into paying high electricity bills and suffering the impacts of the climate crisis due to dirty energy sources such as coal and fossil gas.
The protest action was followed by a public summit that highlighted the launch of a five-point agenda on democratizing the energy and power industry.
Leody De Guzman, chairperson of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, said Filipino workers “are heavily burdened not only by limited or lost livelihood, but also increasing costs of basic necessities,” especially in the time of a pandemic
“As we seek to move forward from this crisis towards a new normal where workers and ordinary Filipinos are far more empowered, part and parcel of our recovery plans should be tapping renewable energy sources that can create much needed green jobs and supply affordable and reliable electricity in the long-term,” he said.
In a separate statement, the groups stressed the “need to bring down electricity rates in order to make it affordable and accessible.”
“There must be awareness that for electricity access to be affordable and reliable in the long term, renewable energy must be established as the primary source of electricity across the country,” the groups said.
“A clear goal that we advocates of energy democracy and people-centered development must unite in is to raise the national ambition for RE development to at least 50% by 2030”, read the agenda, whose content, according to the group, must be prioritized by the government and all aspiring for positions in public office ahead and beyond the upcoming elections,” they added.