MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) is putting on hold disconnection activities in Metro Manila and Laguna until the third week of August, after the government placed both areas under stricter quarantine categories.

“Given the current situation, we continue to take into consideration the challenges our customers are facing amid these difficult times. Thus, we will again suspend all disconnection activities in NCR (National Capital Region) and Laguna to help ease the burden of our customers with the needed relief and additional time to settle their bills,” Meralco First Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer Ferdinand O. Geluz said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

The distribution utility will be holding back on disconnection activities in Metro Manila, which will be under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), from Aug. 6 to 20, and in Laguna, which is now under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) since Aug. 1 until 15.

“We encourage customers, particularly those with concerns with their previous bills, to reach out, so we can discuss and help clarify their concerns and to even come up with payment terms, if really needed,” Mr. Geluz said.

Meanwhile, the firm will continue to be considerate to customers with unpaid, overdue bills in areas under the easier general enhanced community quarantine (GCQ), including Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Lucena City, Batangas and Quezon province, he added.

Mr. Geluz said Meralco will continue to embark on meter reading and bill delivery activities throughout the ECQ in Metro Manila, while implementing strict heath protocols to protect both its workers and consumers.

To reduce exposure to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), consumers can reach Meralco through its website, social media platforms, hotline or mobile app. They must first book an appointment through the online customer appointment system before heading to Meralco Business Centers (BCs).

“Meralco BCs will be on skeleton work force, for any inquiries and concerns on billing and payments as a precaution to the rising number of COVID-19 cases,” Mr. Geluz said.

The centers will remain open to accept payments, applications and provide customer assistance from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Three months ago, Meralco announced it was resuming disconnection activities within its franchise area, after the government placed Metro Manila and nearby areas under GCQ.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Angelica Y. Yang