Press Release
August 3, 2019

Recto bill mandates consumer reps in LTFRB, NTC, MWSS, other regulatory bodies

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is seeking the mandatory membership of consumer representatives in the boards of government agencies that regulate power, water, transportation, and other public utilities.

Explaining Senate Bill 590, Recto said the "interest of the end user and bill payer should be championed from inside the government regulatory bodies when important matters such as rate increases are discussed."

Among the agencies covered by the Recto proposal are the Toll Regulatory Board, Energy Regulatory Commission, Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System, Local Water Utilities Administration, and the National Telecommunications Commission.

Also included are those that oversee land-sea-water transportation: Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, Civil Aeronautics Board, and the Maritime Industry Administration.

"This nation of commuters needs to install one of their own in agencies that police the companies they patronize every day. There are multiple safety, fare, frequency issues which require the inputs of riders," Recto said.

Recto said the coverage of his proposal can later be expanded to include the governing boards of chartered airports such as NAIA, as well as the Philippine Ports Authority, "so that the comfort and congestion complaints of those who use these terminals can be attended to."

Recto said the consumer representatives in these boards will serve "as independent directors who will represent the biggest stakeholders - the public."

To be appointed by the President, consumer representatives, in addition to other qualifications, shall have at least five years of known advocacy in the sector they will represent.

In batting for consumer seats in regulatory agencies, Recto cited the constitutional guarantee of public participation at all levels of government decision-making.

Unfortunately, many charters of government regulatory bodies-which set the fees the public utilities can charge their customers-do not provide for public representation in their decision-making bodies, Recto said.

"As a result, numerous policy decisions have been approved without wide consultation from stakeholders or without full public disclosure of the details, in violation of the ideals of transparency and participative policy-making," Recto said.

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