• Muslim group to seek OIC help on power crisis

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    MARAWI CITY: The Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP) on Sunday said it will seek the help of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Iyad Madani to solve the worsening power crisis that has been affecting Lanao del Sur for the past two years.

    The group claimed that the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho Petilla and other national government officials ignored its appeal to restore power in 18 towns that left more than 180,000 residents in “total darkness” and the suspensions of Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) and National Electrification Administration (NEA) officials.

    “Despite our appeal to DOE Sec. Petilla and other national officials in Manila… Petilla ignored our appeal to restore our electricity and to suspend coop [Lasureco] and NEA officials, who are responsible for our sufferings,” said ARCAPP president Sultan Liwalug B. Dimapunung.

    “Everytime electricity goes off in Metro Manila, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) quickly responds to the brownouts while the government intervenes immediately, unlike in our towns,” he said.

    ARCAPP has more than 25,000 members including those from chapters in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman which belong to the 57-nation OIC.

    The Philippines, through Moro National Liberation Front (MILF), has been an observer members of the OIC since 1977.

    Lawyer Bayan G. Balt, who is representing the complainants, said since the OIC is helping broker the decades-old Philippine government peace processes in Mindanao, the ARCAPP is hopeful that the Pan-Islamic body can also prod President Benigno Aquino 3rd to “do something” about the deprivation among Maranaos, who are also members of ARCAPP.

    “Today is the 14th day of Ramadhan and since then, 18 Muslims towns with 180,000 thousands inhabitants has been observing fasting with no electricity,” he said.

    On June 16, the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 in Marawi City ordered Lasureco to restore power it reportedly cut 14 months ago in 27 towns in Lanao del Sur. But Lasureco restored electricity in only nine towns.

    Balt, counsel for the 27 towns that petitioned the court ruling, said the 18 mayors of the remaining towns sought the court to cite Lasureco in contempt for defying the order. But RTC-Branch 10 Judge Wemida Papandayan inhibited recently from handling further proceeding, he said.

    The 27 mayors had earlier charged Lasureco Manager Ashary Maongco and two officials of the National Electrification Administration with plunder charges in connection with the “questionable disbursements” of P603 million worth of funds in Lanao del Sur, Balt said.

    Lanao del Sur Governor Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. officially sought the intervention of President Aquino and Petilla, but the two executives have not responded yet, Balt said.

    The Maranao lawyer suspected a top cabinet official to be “behind the national government inaction” on the power crisis in Lanao del Sur.

    Maranaos literally means “dwellers of Lake Lanao.” The lake is the Philippine’s second largest fresh water body providing majority of Mindanao’s hydroelectricity through the dams along its exit Agus River.

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