Arroyo OKs state of calamity in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has approved the National Disaster Coordinating Council’s (NDCC) recommendation to place Mindanao under a state of calamity to address the power crisis in the island due to the ongoing dry spell, a Cabinet member confirmed Thursday.
Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, concurrent NDCC chairman, said Mrs. Arroyo approved the recommendation Thursday.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, deputy presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said the declaration would allow local government units in the southern island to tap much-needed calamity funds and impose price controls on basic products in affected areas.
“There is the element of price control during a state of calamity. If you remember, there were price controls in Luzon when a state of calamity was declared after storms Ondoy and Pepeng. That is a possibility,” Saludo said.
Mindanao is currently suffering from a severe power shortage as the El Niño phenomenon disabled the region’s hydro-electric power plants, causing 6- to 7-hour blackouts.
Highly dependent on hydro power, Mindanao has been experiencing power shortfalls and rotating blackouts since 2009 when the ongoing dry spell caused water levels in resevoirs to go below normal levels.
According to the March 10 power systems update by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Mindanao has a shortage of 748 megawatts (MW). A month ago, Mindanao was experiencing a slim 159-MW power shortage.
The Department of Energy (DOE) Power Development Plan projected an energy shortage in the Mindanao grid as early as 2001.
Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, meanwhile, has doused fears that the energy crisis in Mindanao would last until the May 10 elections, which has raised concerns about a failure of elections. With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News