Php62-B in back wages to NPC employees will result to higher electricity bills — PSALM

By , on December 5, 2014

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MANILA – The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) on Thursday said the payment of Php62-billion in back wages to the retrenched employees of National Power Corporation (NPC) would result to increase in the electricity bill of consumers.

In a Senate inquiry, PSALM president and CEO Emmanuel Ledesma said if the Supreme Court (SC) will decide to implement its decision to pay the 9,021 NPC employee-claimants, the electricity bill will increase by 52 centavos per kilowatt hour for over five years and 26 centavos for a 10-year period.

“Over 5 years it will be roughly 52 centavos, and for 10 years, it will be 26 centavos,” Ledesma explained to the committee.

NPC president and CEO Gladys Cruz-Sta Rita said the SC ruling, if finally executed, will also result in brownouts in areas “where we have missionary electrification.”

”This is the electrification of the island off the grid that include 770,000 households in 200 municipalities across 35 provinces to 296 small power utilities groups (SPUG),” Sta. Rita said.

Sta. Rita also said the NPC as well as the Agus-Polangi Hyro Electric Plant in Mindanao will be forced to shut down if the NPC and the PSALM will be forced to pay the retrenched employees led by NPC Drivers and Mechanics Association (DAMA).

The Napaocor manages 28 water dams including the Angat dam which supplies 90 percent of Metro Manila’s water demands.

The NPC and PSALM have claimed that the SC decision would have disastrous effect on the economy and power sector.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad said the amount of P62 billion in back wages is highly questionable.

Abad said most of the 9,021 affected employees were rehired within a month after they were retrenched as a result of the NPC’s reorganization in 2003 pursuant to the implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

Last June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed its September 26, 2006 decision declaring as null and void the displacement of the NPC employees for having been approved by mere alternates of the members of the NPC board of directors.

”I was just wondering. How did they came out with Php62 billion when one third was hired a day after and two thirds (of the 9,021 employees) within a month. This is highly questionable,” Abad said.

Acting on several pleadings filed by various parties including from NPC itself, the SC issued last Sept. 9 a resolution deferring the implementation of its decision last June 30.

Meanwhile, Maximo Paulino Sison III, head executive assistant to the Solicitor General, told the Senate panel that it was the clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which determined the amount.

”To determine the amount it would require receipt of evidence…and and that’s why were saying that the Php62B judgment award is only a consequence of the ruling on the sending of delegates,” Sison explained.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said he got information that case was never tried in RTC or Court of Appeals.

”It actually went straight to the SC so I think the Solgen can clarify this,” Purisima said.