VICE President Jejomar Binay on Saturday gave assurances that all Filipinos, particularly in Mindanao where the power crisis remains unsolved, will have access to cheap electricity and long-term energy supply and security.
Binay said if he is elected president, his administration will move decisively to address the Mindanao power crisis and avoid the teka-teka [wait a minute]mentality that prevented its resolution.
Binay deplored the fact that President Benigno Aquino 3rd asked for emergency powers and P5 billion purportedly to resolve the supply shortage in Luzon, while Mindanao was seemingly left in the cold despite suffering from power outages since 2010.
The Vice President also vowed to lay the groundwork for reforms in the energy sector.
Binay said his administration will also pursue legislative measures to address energy needs and will determine if the Agus-Pulangi power plant complexes should be privatized.
“Of course, before proceeding with any decision we will have to consult with all energy stakeholders. Our decision will hinge on one objective—to strike a balance between reasonably priced electricity in Min¬danao and electricity supply availability,” he said.
Binay also said he will overhaul appointments in the energy family organizations.
“Overstaying and inept heads and deputies should be removed. Appointments should be based on merits and competence in the field of energy and management,” he said.
“Besides the full implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), we will also decide on whether to extend the contract for the Malampaya project and ensuring contract stability in the event of extension after the issue with the Commission on Audit (COA),” he added.
The COA ordered the Department of Energy in May to collect P53 billion in back taxes from the consortium behind the Malam¬paya deep water gas-to-power project. The amount is on top of the government’s 60-percent share of net proceeds.
The Vice President also outlined his energy plan based on five pillars.
“First, we have to assess and determine the real story on the demand and supply situation. The Department of Energy and Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) must work together to ensure that we obtain reliable data and inputs that we can use in formulating and implementing policies,” he said.
He added that the DOE and MINDA should be provided technical and institutional assistance to ensure competence and expertise.
The second pillar will focus on achieving energy self-sufficiency by utilizing the country’s own energy resources: oil, gas, renewable energy, coal through multiple credible contracting rounds.
The second pillar will also resolve territorial disputes in Mindanao through economics and joint development zones, he said.
The third pillar focuses on creating investment opportunities by implementing the Master Plan for Natural Gas for long-term supply viability and recalibrating feed-in tariff renewable energy policy to allow for more investments at more competitive pricing.
The alternative fuels and biofuels industry will also be developed with balanced costs, while incentives for foreign investments will be enhanced at optimal returns and lower price to consumers.
The fourth pillar aims to revisit the statutory and policy framework on power and electricity.
Finally, the fifth pillar aims to institutionalize mitigating measures to minimize the effects of volatile oil prices on the public transport sector, as well as expand the use of alternative fuels for transport and power sectors to provide the public with choices.
Binay also plans to accelerate the implementation of Energy Regulations 1-94 projects for electrification, development, livelihood fund, reforestation, watershed management, health and environment enhancement.
Energy Regulations 1-94 serves as the implementing rules and regulations of Section 5 (i) of R. A. No. 7638, or the DOE Act of 1992.
Section 5 provides that the DOE shall “devise ways and means of giving direct benefits to the province, city, or municipality, especially the community and people affected, and equitable preferential benefit to the region that hosts the energy resource and/or energy-generating facility: Provided, however, that the other provinces, cities, municipalities, or regions shall not be deprived of their energy requirements.”