A request from Malacanang to give President Benigno Aquino 3rd emergency powers to address a looming energy shortage next year, instead of giving consumers relief, makes them pay for lack of foresight and lack of coherent and strategic energy policy of the Aquino administration since it came to power in 2010, according to a lawmaker.
“All of us are being forced to accept a raw deal because those tasked to handle and manage the energy requirements of the country under the government [at present]have failed to do their job. We are now placed in a situation where we have no choice but accept last-minute desperate solutions to avert a power crisis a few months from now,” Rep. Rodolfo Albano 3rd of Isabela said over the weekend.
Albano suggested that Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and Malacanang energy advisers not sleep on reviewing and thinking up justifications for the request to grant the President special powers, saying three weeks is enough for them to do so, a period that coincides with Congress’ 21-day break,
House of Representatives leaders called an investigation last week instead of giving in to Aquino’s request in order to determine if there really is a need for the emergency powers to address the imminent power shortage in the summer of 2015.
A member of the House minority bloc, Albano added that Petilla and other Energy officials should reveal how much consumers will pay for electricity if Congress grants emergency powers to Aquino.
“The impending emergency powers to be given by Congress to the President impinge on very serious consumer concerns like the cost of electricity to be borne by every consumer for the emergency electricity to be contracted for by the government,” he said.
Aquino, on Petilla’s recommendation, is seeking emergency powers to allow the government to contract power-generating sets, good for 300 to 600 megawatts, in order to meet an expected increase in demand for energy.
Albano said it was not enough that Aquino sent a letter or a draft bill that was “too broad” for Congress to attend to the matter with dispatch.
Rather, “the lack of details to guide Congress on the specifics of the Palace’s demand for emergency powers… prevented both the House and the Senate from tackling the bill before its adjournment,” he added.
Albano, also former executive director of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, pointed out that the Department of Energy provided “conflicting” figures on the projected shortage and on the estimated cost for the emergency power contract.
The three-week break is enough for Energy officials to address lawmakers’ concerns on the scope and parameters of the emergency powers, he said, such as duration or extent of the powers, amount and type of energy to be contracted for by the government, period of contract and who will bear the cost or if consumers will bear it and cost per kilowatt hour.