By Ronnel W. Domingo, February 9 2019; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Image Credit to Business Mirror

The Senate approved on third and final reading a bill that will authorize the use of the P207-billion Malampaya Fund to pay off National Power Corp.’s debts, which would mean savings for consumers.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the energy committee, said that if Senate Bill No. 1950 or Murang Kuryente Bill would be enacted, households that consume 200 kilowatt-hours a month would save P169.48 a month or P2,033.74 a year.

Gatchalian, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement the monthly savings would enable a typical household to buy two or three kilos of rice.

He said the fund to be used for debt payments would be allocated through the General Appropriations Act.

Once the obligations have been fully paid, the remaining funds would be used to pay missionary electrification and environmental charges and the feed-in-tariff allowance, he added.

“The approval of Murang Kuryente Act in the Senate is a victory for power consumers, who have long been made to share the burden of paying Napocor’s debts through the universal charge for stranded debts and stranded contract costs incorporated in the monthly electricity bill,” Gatchalian said.

“It is high time for the Filipino people to receive tangible benefits from the Malampaya Fund,” he said. “With the approval of this measure, the government share realized from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project will end up lowering retail power rates for millions of consumers across the country.”

Initially intended to fund the exploration, development and exploitation of energy resources, the Malampaya Fund has remained largely unused since 2001.

Gatchalian allayed the public’s fears of fund disbursement abuses should the bill become law, saying that he has placed several safeguards for its use.

“The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. may only tap the fund after it has already applied the collections from its different sources of revenue,” he added.