As power interruptions continue to hit Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, a party-list lawmaker has chided Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for “solving” the problem with what he called useless conservation advertisements that only advance the official’s political ambition but fail to solve the energy crisis.
“Walang silbi ang mga ito kundi isang pampulitikang kampanya lamang ni Secretary Petilla na nagkukubli sa maskara ng kunwariang payo sa pagtitipid [These ads serve nothing but political campaigning disguised as energy conservation tips],” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said over the weekend.
The Energy chief, according to Zarate, exploits the power shortage to raise awareness among voters that he is running for higher office in the 2016 elections.
The lawmaker accused Petilla of flooding print and broadcast media with the advertisements that give the public energy-saving tips even as brownouts were beng experienced in many parts of the country.
Local leaders in the provinces seemed to have all but given up hope that the energy shortfall will be addressed, noting that their constituents have accepted the painful reality of regular power outages.
According to Mayor Ricardo Ramirez of Medellin town in Cebu province, “Wala nang nagugulat sa paputul-putol na serbisyo ng kuryente dito. Sanay na ang mga tagarito sa brownouts, hindi na ito bago [No one here is surprised anymore with the repeated interruptions in power service. This is not new at all, every one here is used to brownouts].”
Ramirez was reacting to nine-hour power outages being scheduled by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Medellin and neighboring municipalities in the province to give way to preventive maintenance repairs of Compostela-Liloan-Consolacion 69-kilovolt transformer line of Cebu Electric Cooperative 2.
Rotating brownouts have reportedly struck large parts of Cebu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, the City of Naga and the town of Minglanilla in Metro Cebu in the last 11 days in the past month, with some of the power outages lasting as long as 13 hours.
Power interruptions have also plagued other areas in the Visayas.
In February, the Visayan Electric Company began rationing electricity as a result of inadequate power supplies for the Visayan grid, resulting in two-hour rotational brownouts.
Brownouts also plagued areas serviced by the Central Negros Electric Cooperative from May 23 to June 3, affecting the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Salvador Benedicto, Talisay and Silay and the municipality of Murcia.
In Luzon, several towns in Isabela province reeled from 10-hour outages on April 23, while 11-hour power outages hobbled towns in Kalinga and Mountain Province on May 5.
On May 19, several towns of Cagayan province went without electricity for 10 hours.
Rotational power interruptions ranging from six to 12 hours will persist in municipalities covered by Cagayan Electric Power & Light Company until June 7.
In April, outages hit Mindanao with several provinces experiencing brownouts that lasted as long as seven hours.
Affected areas were hit during the Holy Week, with brownouts starting after midnight in Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Agusan, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro CIty, Bukidnon, Surigao City, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Cotabato City.
Rotating brownouts also hit Cagayan de Oro City from April 13 to 15, while nine-hour power outages affected Pagadian City and Lanao del Norte on May 18 because of “annual preventive maintenance.”
Similar outages downed Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro City on May 23, while Zamboanga City lost power on May 26 as the area learned to live with worsening power supply crisis in Mindanao.
The NGCP has confirmed that the energy shortage in Mindanao will only get worse, with lower water levels reported in hydro power plants in Lanao and Bukidnon as a result of El Niño and other weather disturbances.