Water, electricity, communications, and other basic utility service providers will soon be required to create and offer yearly moving average rates for consumption under a bill filed at the House of Representatives.

220719 congress 03 alvin kasiban - HB filed to protect consumers from basic utility service pricing schemes
(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Manila Teachers partylist Rep. Virgilio Lacson has filed House Bill No. 7467 or the proposed “Annual Billing Act of 2020” to ensure that all Filipinos are protected from unreasonable pricing schemes by limited service providers who control the market.

“Recent unexplainable and shocking spikes in electricity costs charged against common Filipino have made it apparent that there is a need to modify the manner we charged and made accountable for their utilities. The appalling fact that the Filipino consumer is at at the mercy of the utility service providers has never been more felt than in the recent months where they are charged up to more than four times their average monthly consumption,” he said in his bill’s explanatory note.

He said HB No. 7467 provides security for Filipino consumers from the “apparent erratic pricing of unreliable services” of they are essentially forced to subscribe to, considering the current limited players in the industry.

“This measure also balances the position of the consumer against burdensome utility contracts holding them liable for the whole period subscribed, despite the unsatisfactory service and unreasonable pricing,” Lacson said.

HB 7467 provides that all utility service providers shall offer yearly contracts stating that the total service price for such one year period, which shall be based on a moving average of the customer’s or client’s consumption.

The bill grants the customer or client the option to amortize the total amount due for a period of at least 12 months or pay the whole amount after delivery of the service and upon the expiry of the period of service appearing on the contract.

“It shall be unlawful for utility service providers to charge full contract price where they unreasonably failed to deliver such service and without fault of the customer or client,” it provides.

Lacson said in such case, the utility service providers shall proportionately deduct from the total amount chargeable to the customer or client the amount corresponding to the unserved period.

“Periods of erratic or continuously unreliable service shall be considered failure to deliver the contracted service,” he said.

Under HB 7467, it shall be unlawful for utility service providers to charge customers or clients the full contract price or to charge against or appropriate any deposit made by the latter, where the customer or client  pre-terminated the contract due to failure of the utility service provider to deliver the contracted services.

Violators of the proposed Act shall be slapped with a penalty of fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million, at the discretion of the judge.

Within 30 days from the effectivity of the proposed Act, all concerned government agencies and relevant stakeholders are required to issue its implementing rules and regulations.

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