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Meralco rates lower this month

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Nine Dawlah Islamiya terrorists were killed, while six others were wounded in a series of encounters with combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Pagalungan, Maguindanao del Sur over the weekend.

The clashes also resulted in eight fatalities on the side of the MILF, a former Musl im secessionist group that has entered into a peace pact with the government.

After sensing that an MILF reinforcement was approaching, the military said the terrorists shot dead five persons including a brother of a village official, a minor and three others in Barangay Dalgan to mislead the MILF backup.

The terrorists escaped through the Liguasan Delta in several boats.

Local officials including V ice Mayor Abdillah Mamasabulod and village leaders yesterday confirmed to journalists and Bangsamoro police that the skirmishes occurred in Barangay Dalgan and nearby areas.

The clashes erupted following an attack by MILF fighters on a local Dawlah Islamiya faction, in support of the Army’s efforts to neutralize the terrorists.

Maj. Gen. A lex Rillera, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said he received reports that MILF fighters had neutralized nine terrorists over the weekend.

The MILF counterterrorism operation was reportedly conducted in coordination with the police and military.

An official of the Pagalungan peace and order council said the operation against the Dawlah Islamiya was reportedly led by Akmad Abas, a member of the 80-seat Bangsamoro parliament and chief of the MILF’s Eastern Mindanao Group.

Police said the terrorists carried with them the bodies of their slain co mrades as they escaped from the scene of the encounters.

The identities of the slain MILF fighters were not immediately available.

MANILA, Philippines — Two persons were wounded in a shooting incident sparked by a quarrel among street gamblers in San Mateo, Rizal on Sunday.

Fideleo Reyes and Larry James Reyes were playing cara y cruz with the suspect, identified as alias Borado, when they figured in a spat in Barangay Silangan.

To prevent the quarrel from getting worse, the Reyeses decided to go home.

The suspect followed the victims and allegedly shot them in front of their house.

The victims were taken to a hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds.

A manhunt was launched for the suspect.

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Up to 82 houses and more than a hundred hectares of rice fields were destroyed by strong winds that battered four villages in Kabacan, Cotabato over the weekend.

The Kabacan municipal disaster risk reduction and management office along with Army troopers and emergency responders from the provincial government assisted families displaced by the calamity.

Kabacan Mayor Evangeline Pascua-Guzman said the municipal government has yet to assess the extent of damage in the villages of Katidtuan, Lower Paatan, Malamote and Osias as well as in other areas in the municipality.

“No one was hurt, but many houses were destroyed and several families were left homeless in the aftermath of the calamity,” Guzman said.

She said the local government’s emergency response operations in Katidtuan, Lower Paatan, Malamote and Osias are being assisted by the office of the governor.

The winds also destroyed farms in Kabacan, tagged as the rice granary of Cotabato.

MANILA, Philippines — Lower generation charge pulled down rates of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) this month, ending three consecutive months of increases.

Meralco, the largest electric power distribution company in the country, said overall electricity rate for a typical household is down by P0.7961 per kilowatt-hour this December, to P11.2584 from P12.0545 per kwh in November.

The downward adjustment is equivalent to a drop of around P159 in the total electricity bill of residential customers consuming 200 kwh, P239 for those consuming 300 kwh, P318 for 400 kwh, and P398 for 500 kwh.

Meralco attributed this month’s overall rate reduction primarily to lower generation charge, which is the largest component of the electric bill.

Generation charge for December declined by P0.6606 to P6.5332 from P7.1938 per kwh last month on the back of lower charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and independent power producers (IPPs).

Improved supply situation in the Luzon grid due to lower demand and decreased average plant capacity on outage resulted in a P2.7624 per kwh decrease in WESM charges. IPP charges likewise fell by P0.4731 per kwh due to First Gas plants’ reduced use of more expensive liquid fuel and lower international coal prices.

Meralco said peso appreciation, which affected around 97 percent of IPP costs that were dollar denominated, also contributed in the reduction of IPP charges.

Lower average power supply agreement dispatch, on the other hand, pushed PSA charges slightly higher by P0.0805 per kwh. PSAs accounted for 48 percent of Meralco’s total energy requirement for the period, followed by IPPs at 32 percent and WESM at 20 percent.

Meanwhile, transmission charge, taxes and other charges also registered a net reduction of P0.1355 per kwh.

Meralco said the collection of the feed-in tariff allowance at the rate of P0.0364 per kwh remains suspended, as directed by the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Pass-through charges for generation and transmission are paid by Meralco to the power suppliers and the grid operator, respectively, while taxes, universal charges and FIT-All are all remitted to the government.

On its end, Meralco’s distribution charge has not moved since the P0.0360 per kwh reduction for a typical residential customer beginning August 2022.

Citing a study conducted by the International Energy Consultants (IEC), Meralco said its rates “remain fair and reasonable.”

The IEC said Meralco’s average tariff in 2022 ranked 21st and three percent below the global average in its cross-country comparison of 46 energy markets, including two American states.

If subsidized markets were excluded, the IEC said Meralco’s tariff would even be 13 percent lower than the world average.

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