‘Extra powers will not solve energy shortage’

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GRANTING emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not solve a looming energy shortage, House leaders said on Wednesday as convenors of a consumer group warned that granting the President extra powers is “dangerous.”

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila)  and Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro noted that there are other ways to address the power crisis that could hit the country next year.

The President on Monday asked Congress to grant him emergency powers to act on power problems that officials said could be felt by March or April next year.
“Aside from emergency powers, there are other provisions of the Epira law that can address this.

provisions of the Epira law that can address this. Has the Department of Energy [DoE] conducted inspections of power plants and told its owners that at no point in the three-month period next year should they conduct maintenance work because there is a greater demand for power supply? As for the ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission], are they doing their job which is to look if there is cartel of power supply and impose penalty on those liable if there [is]such [cartel]?” Gonzales said.


“There are a lot of provisions under the Epira that should have been done but unfortunately, were not done. That is their mandate. The grant of emergency powers is not the solution. It could be a part of the solution, but even without it, the DOE and ERC have the capacity to address the situation,” he added.
Epira is the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

The President wants Congress to grant him emergency powers through a joint resolution so that the government can enter into contract agreements with power generators.

Under Epira, the government is banned from entering into contracts with power producers unless both Houses of Congress grant the President emergency powers to do so.

“The mandate of the DOE is to plan for five to 10 years. What has been the plan of the DOE since Secretary [Jericho] Petilla took over? Why is it that the emergency was only discovered right now when it could have been anticipated two years ago?” Gonzales asked.

The lawmaker admitted that he was baffled by Petilla’s statement that P6 billion would be needed to contract power producers by the end of October this year to ensure that there will be no power outages from March to May next year.

“How do you justify a rental free of P6 billion that would only ensure power supply for three months next year? Is it right for us to pay P6 billion when we only need additional generating power in three months? That cost is quite high,” Gonzales said.

“I have talked to Congressman Umali and we have a common understanding that whatever that nature of that emergency power would be, it should not result as an additional burden of the consumers,” he added.

Umali heads the House energy committee.

He and Gonzales are members of the ruling Liberal Party.

Instead of pressing Congress for emergency powers, Gonzales noted that the Energy department should just focus on accessing the consolidated power supply of private generating power plants such as malls, which would already be good for 1,000 megawatts.

“We don’t want the government to hastily provide fund, even if it is coming from Malampaya fund, because there are other existing resources available,” he said.

Blanket powers
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casino, a convenor of the People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (Power), said granting additional powers to the President is dangerous because such powers can be abused.

“Blanket powers for Aquino are dangerous. The emergency powers being requested by President Aquino from Congress to solve the projected energy shortfall appears vague, all-encompassing and therefore prone to abuse and corruption,” Casino warned.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. agreed, noting that the request sent by Aquino to leaders of Congress lacked details, particularly how the emergency powers will be dispensed with.

“We are perplexed why the President did not even indicate the amount of additional capacity to be contracted out, how it will be acquired, the expected cost to taxpayers and consumers, nor the period involved. Without these things, there can be no intelligent debate on their proposal,” Casiño said.

“It’s as if the President wants blanket powers even more than what Congress gave then-President Fidel V. Ramos before,” he added.

Once given, Aquino’s emergency powers may authorize him to negotiate with private contractors and enter into onerous supply contracts.

This, Casino explained, may push up electricity rates to extreme levels.

But Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said parameters of the requested emergency powers will be given by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla when he meets with leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives.

“The details will have to be filled up by Secretary Petilla. In fact, Sen. Franklin Drilon was asking [what are the parameters]of these emergency powers. So that will have to be discussed by the Department of Energy with both the House and the Senate,” Lacierda told a news briefing also on Wednesday.

He explained that it is Petilla’s job to determine contents of the joint resolution that will authorize the grant of additional powers for the President.

As the point man in dealing with problems pertaining to power, Petilla will weigh the “slew of options available,” Lacierda said.

He allayed fears that the situation may cause a repeat of the power crisis during Ramos’ time, when the government lost huge amounts of money to pay for exorbitant electric fees from various producers.

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11 Comments

  1. >>> giving an executive emergency power just to deal with imminent power crisis next 2015 OR JUST TO ENSURE THAT BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW TO BE RATIFIED?

    >>>Power crisis? why not activate and start utilizing the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant In Bataan which from FEMarcos, Cory Aquino,FVRamos, Estrada, GMA till present regime are still paying from peoples money until now the company producer/contractor . While the facts it was created and built during FEMarcos regime was for this kind of situation. And now what is in mind and thinking of former President FEMarcos is definitely correct .

  2. Who among Noy’s cabinet are trustworthy, honest, efficient in their job? None. Oh sorry, there were two, delimlim is efficient in giving WPP’s and roxas is good in politicking even thousand died and dying in Leyte. Our country is in a big shit!

  3. It is dangerous to grant PNoy an emergency power since it most likely that PNoy will abuse it. His mind is unreliable. He is greedy for power. No, no, no Emergency Power for PNOY.

  4. We should not close our ears/minds to any suggestion/proposal to solve the imminent power crisis. But I cannot see how additional power in the hands of Pres Aquino can by itself solve anything for how can extra power in his hands produce more electicity? Up to now PeeNoy has not come up with any plan or the basic outlines of that. If he can then he should also show that giving him those extraordinary powers is the only way he can implement such plans, then we should seriously consider that. Until then we have to tell the great Pee that we have taken him on his word too much and too long-nor more that
    I cannot dishonor the memory of my parents cant that he normally gives us to which sadly we have been falling for for the past 4 years.

  5. some sitting commissioners & top level positions in DOE are might working behind those who appointed them; Plague by past 3 regimes is not easy task to cleanse; some key solutions might be blocked by civil service regulations. These bylaws program for good intention will go bad once penetrated by virus thieves…as we upgrade virus protection program bylaws, some are embedded be difficult to remove.

  6. My analysis of giving emergency powers to Aquino is dangerous and not needed. It would be the same as giving your 6 year old a gun to play with because he is having a tantrum. Nothing good will happen and many bad things could happen.

  7. I believe, EPIRA should be thoroughly reviewed and strategic amendments should be made. Cyclical power supply deficits signify that the law is ineffective on its purpose. Power generation should not be solely treated as profitable business endeavor where private entities surely will exploit at the expense of the consumers. Primarily, its a social responsibily of any government, much more a poor country like the Philippines, to address. As observed, EPIRA is being used by the country’s oligarchs to make more money through putting up power plants instead of industrial plants to generate more employment. Operating a high-tech and modern power plant needs only few technicians and engineers. Naturally, these oligarchs are more interested on this type of business since the margin of profit is much more big. Profit per employee is therefore very big compared to an ordinary business endeavor. With the country’s few capitalists diverting their investable money to power generation, no wonder our employment woe has worsened. In effect, our economic development will forever be a pipe dream.

  8. Bobski Natividad on

    This guy Patilla was appointed by Pnoy to do wonders on energy issues, how come he is throwing back his responsibilities to Pnoy? Is he not the right man for the job? Why is there in need for emergency powers to solve the problem? Another hidden agenda from one of the bright boys?

  9. “Extra powers” enables Malakanyang (meaning Persi-Noy) to sign contracts (most likely to his KKK’s and the KKK-recommendations) with less oversight from Kongreso-Pilipinas.

  10. PNoy and his team have been sleeping on their jobs or simply lazy. They never addressed this problem other than blaming the Arroyo administration 4 years passing. Now that the mischievous one is backed in the corner, he does not fire his incompetent energy secretary and conveniently protect and spare him but low and behold, he now wants extra powers to address it. I agree, PNoy cannot and will not be able to solve the energy problem, firstly because he does not know how and secondly he will just allow purchase expensive energy cost from his oligarchs which will only make the cost of energy more expensive to the licking of his oligarch-financiers.