Poe asks Meralco to delay payment for ‘shocking’ bills until updated ones arrive

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2020   •   619

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Monday urged the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to hold off payment for electricity bills until it addresses “confusing” and “unusually high” charges to consumers amid the community quarantine.

In a statement, Poe asked Meralco to address the concerns over the “shocking” electricity bills received by consumers this month.

“We ask Meralco to issue a final and correct billing based on accurate meter reading of the actual kilowatt-hour consumption,” she said.

“Until such accurately updated bill indicating exact staggered due is received by customers, it is proper that they hold off payment,” she added.

Meralco earlier explained that the significant increase reflected in power bills was due to the higher consumption and large number of people staying at home amid the quarantine to prevent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.

It also said that the March and April bills were based on the average daily consumption of consumers from December 2019, and January to February 2020.

“While we recognize the efforts of Meralco to explain, the confusing billings and unusually high charges have left many households in distress, especially those who lost their sources of income due to the lockdown,” Poe said.

Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, added that while correcting the electricity bills, Meralco should also assure continuous power service in households amid the public health crisis and hot season.

“As the company sorts out our billings, they should keep our lights on as uninterrupted power supply is crucial to run life-saving equipment in hospitals and to keep people connected,” she said.

Meralco earlier said it has suspended the disconnection of unpaid accounts falling due within the quarantine period. It added that some of its meter-reading activities have already resumed and that it remains accurate and transparent.

The power distributor also stressed that consumers may opt to pay their bills on a staggered scheme following guidelines issued by the government amid the quarantine.

Palace unconvinced PH has higher COVID-19 cases than Indonesia

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

Malacañang is not convinced that the Philippines has surpassed Indonesia in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During a press briefing on Friday (August 7), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines is conducting more COVID-19 tests which resulted in more confirmed cases.

Ibig sabihin po dahil mas maigiting ang ating pagte-test hindi totoo na mas marami tayo kaso kaysa sa Indonesia. Hindi lamang nalalaman ng mga Indonesian kung sino-sino ang mga umiikot na mayroong sakit at least tayo alam kung sino po sila (It means we are conducting more tests. It is not true that we have more cases than Indonesia. The Indonesians don’t know who are sick at least, on our case, we know),” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has previously explained that the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines cannot be compared to other countries because of the population difference and health care system.

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said no country can say they have been successful in their fight against COVID-19.

“No country could ever say they are successful. Look at Japan, look at Italy, even Vietnam, and Singapore,” he said. “We focus on what we are doing is appropriate, proper, and practical rather than everyday compare yourself.” -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

QC gov’t seeks complete info from DOH for contact tracing

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 7, 2020

The Quezon City local government has appealed to the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure complete information of all coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive individuals to hasten its contact tracing efforts.

QC Mayor Joy Belmonte said the agency’s failure to provide complete information in some cases delays contact tracing by days.

Due to this, she said frontliners are forced to spend valuable time looking for the needed information from other possible sources including social media.

“The lack of available information from the outset, specifically addresses and contact numbers, amounting to half of all cases reported, delays contact tracing by days,” she said.

Belmote said 573 or 47% out of the 1,224 COVID-19 cases from Aug. 1 to 2 have no addresses or contact numbers, forcing the City Epidemiology and
Surveillance Unit (CESU) to label them as ‘unknown’.

“With that, we appeal to your good office as Secretary of Health to set the vision and direction in improving data quality for rapid contact tracing,” she added. -AAC

Gov’t offices under lockdown reach 153; over 10K gov’t workers, COVID-19 positive

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 6, 2020

Government offices that have been put under lockdown now reached 153, while over 10,000 government employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Among the offices include the Government Service Insurance System office in Pasay City and Quezon City which will remain closed until Friday (August 7). However, the GSIS advisory states that its online facilities will still remain open for members and pensioners.

The main office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Intramuros, Manila will remain closed until August 16 for extensive disinfection and decontamination.

GOVERNMENT OFFICES UNDER LOCKDOWN

NCR – 108
Region IV – 16
Region VII – 11
Region I – 5
Region V – 4
CARAGA – 3
Region IX – 2
CAR – 1
Region II – 1
Region XI – 1
Region XII – 1

TOTAL: 153

Civil Service Commission (CSC) Commissioner Atty. Aileen Lizada advised that the head of department or agency should have a concrete internal protocol to prevent the further spread of the virus. This includes swab testing, disinfection, and other health protocols.

So we need to see, dapat meron kayong ganoong internal protocol para ho na everyone is guided accordingly (So you should have internal protocols so that everyone is guided accordingly),” she said.

Meanwhile, a total of 10,344 government employees tested positive for COVID-19 as of August 5.

Lizada said employees will have free medical services if they wish to be treated in government facilities and hospitals.

She also calls on head of the agencies to continue providing salaries to Job Orders.

“Although there is no employer-employee relationship, I personally believe that the head the agencies must continue paying the salaries of JOs and COS. They were forced to not work because of this virus,” she said. -AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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