Some senators see no problem with granting President Benigno Aquino 3rd emergency powers to deal with an expected energy crisis next summer.
Opposition Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito is agreeable to the idea, as long as the extra powers do not lead to abuse.
“We just have to put necessary safeguards to make sure that abuse of the emergency powers like the one during Ramos’ time will not happen,” Ejercito said on Friday, referring to former President Fidel Ramos.
Sen. Francis Escudero said he is willing to support a joint congressional resolution providing the President the emergency powers, but, like Ejercito, is wary that they could be abused.
Escudero added that there should be no repetition of the mistakes of the past where instead of solving the energy crisis, emergency presidential powers only made the people suffer.
He was referring to the “take or pay” provision in the contracts that the Ramos administration signed with about 40 independent power producers that eventually resulted in power consumers in the end paying for electricity they did not use.
Aquino on Thursday announced that he will ask Congress for special powers that will authorize the national government to contract additional generating capacity to fill the 300-megawatt projected shortfall next year.
Vicente Sotto 3rd ,Senate acting minority leader, is also open to the idea as long as Malacanang would be specific in its request.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th filed a bill last January giving emergency powers to the President so he could address the energy crisis.
Trillanes filed the bill at the time when rotating blackouts threatened the franchise area of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
Under the proposed law, Senate Bill 2051, Aquino shall 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 measure was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy headed by Sen. Sergio Osmena 3rd and Finance headed by Escudero.
Not everyone believes the government’s warning of a looming power shortage, saying it was concocted to give the independent power producers the chance to profit from the situation.
One of them is political analyst Ramon Casiple, who said in an earlier interview that the granting of special powers to the President favors power producers close to Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.