The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) on Thursday warned Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to be cautious of vested interests in handling proposed emergency powers to address a looming energy crisis.
The proposal, the TUCP said, “is now opening doors for salesmen, opportunists and pirates of all stripes peddling very expensive power solutions that will preserve the prerogatives of the private independent generation sector [that]seemingly willed the power shortage to existence.”
According to Louie Corral, TUCP executive director, they received reliable information suggesting that Petilla is being swarmed by some interest groups to offer to President Benigno Aquino 3rd power solutions that will make people pay more for their electricity.
“We support emergency powers for the President, but [such powers]must be based on clear policies of what constitutes ‘secure power’ and what government means as ‘competitive power rates.’ The [Energy] secretary is now on shifting sands, first he wants to buy generator sets, now, he says he wants to commercially rent power barges for 3 years that will run only for 20 days. Which is which? How much is Juan dela Cruz paying? What is the game plan?” Corral asked.
He said the country is faced by a financial triple whammy—as consumers, as taxpayers and through a damaged economy—and “that is why the TUCP cautions Secretary Petilla to institute a clear, categorical timetable for the consultations that President Aquino directed [the Department of Energy] to undertake during his SONA [State of the Nation Address].”
Corral added that Petilla should refrain from scare-mongering and giving the President a deadline but rather ensure that consultations are transparent and the policies that are arrived at must be acceptable to the economic cluster of the Cabinet, to businessmen and the workers and consumers who will bear the burden.
“Maraming aninong gumagalaw at maraming bumubulong na pagkakitaan ang krisis na ito. Kung kaya’t pinag-iingat namin ang butihing kalihim [Many are going to make a killing from this power crisis. And that is why we are telling Petilla to be cautious],” he said.
TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said the TUCP is prepared to join the process now directed by Aquino to help solve the problem.
“If Secretary Petilla does not make the consultation transparent and time-bound, we will not just have a failure but a failure of governance. The economic legacy of the Aquino administration is what is at stake. In bearing the ultimate command responsibility, he must look at a full-options approach to solving the problem rather than just the narrow suggestions being eagerly whispered to his ears,” Tanjusay added.
He said the TUCP was the first group to ask Aquino to declare a national emergency in the power sector in April this year, asking him to establish a presidential task force to address the problem of lack of power and spiraling power rates.