PMP bets vow review of flawed laws
By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidates of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), led by Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, vowed yesterday to review the controversial Oil Deregulation Law, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and the Fair Election Act if they win in the May 10 elections.
Estrada told editors and reporters of The STAR that if re-elected, he would file a resolution to review the EPIRA and Oil Deregulation Law.
“These (laws) have to be studied. This is a very sensitive issue. I will manifest, once I win, to revisit the two laws,” Estrada said.
Estrada chided President Arroyo for appointing former secretary Angelo Reyes to the Department of Energy (DOE).
“GMA (President Arroyo) should not have appointed Reyes. I think he is not an expert on energy. She should have chosen someone with wide knowledge on energy. Reyes should have also declined his appointment as energy chief. Only I and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, among the members of the Commission on Appointments, objected to Reyes’ appointment before the CA. Maybe, Reyes had talked to other members of the CA,” Estrada said.
Estrada said he has also sponsored a bill seeking to amend the EPIRA co-authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, his party mate.
“I forgot the particular amendments. I don’t know if the House also passed a counterpart bill. Maybe in the next Congress, I will push for it again,” Estrada said.
Former Negros Occidental Rep. Apolinario “Jun” Lozada said the Oil Deregulation Law is everybody’s concern.
He said good laws are useless if the one heading the agency to implement such law is not good.
Lozada said the Department of Energy (DOE) should reorganize following the power crisis in Mindanao.
“There must be a reorganization of the DOE from top to bottom. Who really is the energy czar of the country? Not only the EPIRA, but also the Charter of the DOE (has to be restudied). Who really calls the shots? There is the PNOC (Philippine National Oil Company), the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), and DOE. The law by itself has to be reviewed. Unless the people knew what they are doing,” Lozada said.
Lozada said the present difficulties facing the country showed that the power crisis in Mindanao had already affected Metro Manila where residents have complained of increased power rates.
Former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad said the main purpose of the EPIRA is to encourage competition to lower power rates.
“It did not encourage competition and it makes the government powerless. There is a cartel among big oil companies. Cartel could drive away investors. It’s time to revisit it particularly in the face of the power crisis,” Tatad said.
Lawyer JV Bautista said the government must have full control of the industry to protect the people from greedy businessmen whose only objective is to gain more from their profit at the expense of the poverty-ridden Filipinos.
“We have an energy secretary lawyering for oil companies. Reyes, for not being able to do anything on the series of oil prices increases, said it’s deregulated. The state, during the Marcos regime, was able to control the prices of oil because he created Petron. It subsidized the oil industry and competed with privately owned oil companies. Why is it that every time there is an increase in oil products, the increases are not impeded, but when there is a decrease in oil prices, it’s not decreasing, NEDA says there is a decrease in oil, but DOE says there is none,” Bautista said.
Fair election act
On the issue of the Fair Election Act, Estrada said there are candidates who are now circumventing the law.
“They are using the party-list (groups) to have themselves included in the political advertisements. I’m in favor of revisiting the Fair Election Act,” Estrada said.
Estrada said the PMP has spent way below the allowed amount for the campaign.
He said the Fair Election Act was created out of the insecurity of politicians who cannot equal the wide publicity that movie actors-turned politicians like him are getting from media.
“Actors like me, who turned politicians, do not need political ads because the people are seeing us almost once in a while on television and in the movies,” Estrada said.
Tatad said there must be a complete ban on political ads.
He said candidates must not spend more than what they will earn legally once they win.
“If the candidates spent billions during the campaign, how will they recoup that once they win? We will need real electoral reform, not on the 11th hour… Who undergo the survey? What post the margin of error, etc. etc,” Tatad said.
Tatad said he wrote the Commission on Elections to enforce the provisions of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act on Pulse Asia, Social Weather Station (SWS) and other poll survey firms on their conduct and publication of survey results during the current campaign.
“I will be filing charges later. On our television ads, we should get 30 percent discount from TV ads, 10 percent from the print from the prevailing rates 12 months before the elections,” Tatad said.
Bautista agreed, saying that the Fair Election Act is turning into an “Unfair Election Act.”
“There must be electoral reforms. There should be no TV ads that are private. TV ads should be equal to all candidates. It’s not a matter of if I paid this much? The state must have a corresponding duty. Surveys should be regulated. If it has to be private, it should not be published. Mass media should not publicize it,” Bautista said.