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No Meralco disconnection until Jan.

MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) has extended the no-disconnection policy until end-January next year for consumers who could not settle their unpaid power bills, House Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco said on Sunday.

In a press release, he said Meralco President Ray C. Espinosa told him that the distribution utility decided to allow consumers to pay their electricity bills at a later date without getting disconnected, after “careful evaluation and in consideration” of the lawmaker’s request to extend the grace period.

Mr. Velasco said he sent a letter on Nov. 30 to Mr. Espinosa requesting the power distribution utility to extend the no-disconnection period until January 2021 to ease the burden of consumers in coping with the global health emergency.

The Meralco executive then approved of Mr. Velasco’s request in a letter dated Dec. 14.

Mr. Espinosa, as quoted in the press release, said that the extended grace period would “benefit more than three million Meralco customers with consumption of 200 kilowatt per hour and below during the billing month of December 2020.”

The number of customers that stand to benefit from the extension make up 47% of Meralco’s customer base, he said.

Mr. Espinosa’s statements were confirmed by the Meralco team on Viber.

For Mr. Velasco, the longer grace period will provide reprieve to those who are reeling from the effects of pandemic as well as natural calamities. “This good gesture on the part of Meralco will go a long way in helping our kababayans feel secure this Christmas,” he said.

He also thanked Mr. Espinosa for “showing true bayanihan spirit and empathizing with the plight of our countrymen.”

In June, Meralco said that it was considering whether to extend the moratorium on disconnection notices for customers who still could not settle their bills.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Angelica Y. Yang

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