House panel OKs bill creating energy advocacy office

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

July 15, 2021, 7:02 pm

MANILA – A measure providing for the national energy policy and framework for electric power advocacy hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives. 
In an online meeting on Thursday, the House Committee on Energy approved the unnumbered substitute bill that seeks for the creation of the Energy Advocacy Counsel Office (EACO).
Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian, the author of the measure, said the EACO would act as the independent end-user representative in all rate-setting, rule-making, as well as other energy-related cases and proceedings before government agencies, including judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
PHILRECA Partylist Rep. Presley de Jesus, another author, said the captive market end-user consumers do not have an office of public interest lawyers that would represent their grievances against the "incessant demands" of energy players who have a group of "legal gladiators at their disposal" to fight for their corporate interest.
De Jesus said the EACO as an institution would also help ensure low and reasonable electricity rates for the end-user consumers who are "held captive" in the private sector-dominated power industry. 
Under the bill, the EACO shall be a legal public legal office that shall represent all captive market end-users in the energy sector, and matters affecting the public interest before any department, commission, agency, or court requiring the services of a lawyer. 
It shall independently discharge its mandate towards the best interest of all captive end-users, ensuring the least cost without compromising safety, reliability, and sufficient service. 
It would also be an independent body and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice. (PNA)