Sen. Trillanes files bill granting the president emergency powers

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EVEN without a request coming from the President Benigno Aquino 3rd, asking congress to grant him special powers, Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, went ahead and filed a measure granting the chief executive special authority for him to prevent the looming power crisis in the country.

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Trillanes, in filing senate bill 2051, insisted that the president needs emergency powers in light of the threat of rotating blackouts in areas being serviced by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) which is expected to take place during second quarter of the year.

Under his proposal President Aquino will be granted the power to enter into negotiated contracts for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement and/or maintenance of power plants, projects and facilities whenever necessary for the national welfare and in the public interest.

The proposed emergency authority introduced by Trillanes is almost similar to the powers given by congress to then President Fidel Ramos, during the power crisis in the 1993.

However, Trillanes’ proposal prohibits the government from granting sovereign guarantees for the payment of obligations incurred by the Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The proposed bill also disallows the inclusion of onerous ‘take or pay’ contracts or similar provisions which, according to Trillanes, have been abused in the past.

Suggestion to grant Aquino emergency powers was first aired by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, in order to speed up the construction of needed power plants to address the power crisis.

But members of the congress and even the president himself have expressed disinterest on the proposal.

Senator Sonny Angara said that instead of emergency powers the government should find ways on how to fast tract the application process for new power plants which would help in providing additional power to meet the demands of the country.

Senators Francis Escudero, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ralph Recto and Serge Osmena were also hesitant to the idea and insisted that there are other available options for the government to consider.

But Trillanes insisted that granting the president emergency authority could help the country have enough supply of electricity and avert future shortages.

Trillane’s bill likewise authorizes the President to compel IPPs to sell power to distribution utilities like MERALCO as well as power distribution cooperatives and to fix the rate of return of the IPPs on their rate base to a reasonable rate not to exceed twelve percent per annum.

SB 2051 also empowers the president to use  all available funds, including the Malampaya Fund, to finance the maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement of energy infrastructure in preparation for and/or in response to natural and man-made calamities, and  to finance subsidy for energy consumption by end users in case of market failure.

The senator expressed belief that if approved, the President would be in a better position to protect consumers, who are already reeling not only from the recent calamities but also from seemingly endless increases in the cost of gasoline and diesel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), water, transport fare as well as in the premium contributions imposed by the Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth, PAG-IBIG fund. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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6 Comments

  1. Pag naipasa na ito, wala ng magiging dahilan pa ang pangulo at hindi na sya makakapag-alibi. This bill is good actually! :)

  2. This bill should pass. The president can use this bill whenever an issue like this came up. And so the next presidents.

  3. What a double-faced Senator. After critizing his benefactor, he wants to give him emergency power. Pare-pareho kayong mga walang hiya. If you really want to help the country get out of the ever rising rates whether in gas, power and water, why don’t file a bill that would repeal all those laws that created these monsters, and be your own man. Sayang ang pagiging PMA graduate mo. Pera pa naman ng taong bayan ang pinag paaral sa yo.

    • The proposed bill is for future purposes. PNoy only have 2 more years as president, so who ever replace him will have this power to stop power companies from abusing their consumers.

  4. The Tenant cannot even operate on normal operating conditions of just discharging and attending to the demands of his office. How can he function in a world of flux that surrounds and commands the energy sector in the world where control of this critical resource is not even in his domain of everyday functions? Another knee jerk reaction from a Senator that will certainly benefit MVP as he has already doubled the next round of price increases that Meralco will impose on hapless consumers to meet the needed “inflationary pressures” that can perk up the stock markets to support the designs and schemes of tapering. Addressing the extant laws that make it possible for WESM and ERC, for instance, to be as unresponsive and uncouth in the exercise of their true mandates would be a better tact. As energy prices are manipulated elsewhere in the world, PH as a net consumer of energy, must craft laws that enable it to ride out the dynamics of this sectorof the economy. Ask the right questions on what other countries are doing. For instance, why are energy prices in the US based on Brent Crude and not on West Texas Intermediate? Enact laws that serve the best interest of the consuming public, not the windfall that such emergency powers will grant to vested interests.