You forgot to pay your electricity bill on time and when you get home from work, you discover that your electricity service is disconnected.
Was the electric company correct in disconnecting your electricity?
Pursuant to Republic Act 9136, otherwise known as "The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001," the Energy Regulatory Commission promulgated the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers which establishes residential consumers' rights to have access to electricity and electric service. Sections 18 and 19 thereof state that:
"Article 18. Right to Due Process Prior to Disconnection of Electric Service. – No consumer shall be deprived of electric service without due process of law.
"Subject to the foregoing paragraph, disconnection of electric service shall only be made under the following circumstances:
"(a) Non-payment of electric bills within the period of time provided in Article 32 of this Magna Carta;
"(b) Illegal use of electricity under Republic Act No. 7832, otherwise known as the Anti-Electricity Pilferage Law;
"(c) Upon lawful orders of government agencies and/or the courts;
"(d) When the public safety so requires;
"(e) Request of the registered customers based on justifiable reasons; or
"(f) Allowing other end-users or persons to be connected to his electrical installation, whether for profit or not."
"Article 19. Right to a Notice Prior to Disconnection. – For disconnections due to non-payment of electric bills, a written notice must have been served to the customer forty-eight (48) hours before such disconnection. The distribution utility may discontinue the service notwithstanding the existence of the customer's bill deposit with the distribution utility which will serve as guarantee for the payment of future bill(s) after service is reconnected."
Based on the above-stated law, a written notice must have been served to the customer forty-eight (48) hours before disconnecting the electricity.
In the case of Manila Electric Company v. T.E.A.M. Electronics Corp., GR 131723, Dec. 13, 2007, Ponente: Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, the Supreme Court affirmed that an electric company must give a notice prior to disconnecting the power supply of a customer as Section 97 of Revised General Order 1, the governing rule at that time, provides for a 48-hour notice requirement prior to disconnection due to non-payment of bill. This is similar to the provision of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers. Therefore, disconnecting the electricity for non-payment of bill without any prior notice is illegal.
If it is proven that your electricity provider cut off your electricity supply without prior notice due to your failure to pay your bill, then said company violated your rights under the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers, which could open it to civil and administrative liabilities.