Government should adopt calibrated response to Mindanao power crisis – Recto
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – The government should adopt a “calibrated response” to the worsening power crisis in Mindanao and avoid a repetition of unnecessarily contracting independent power producers (IPPs) as it did in the early 90s that only overburdened consumers, former senator Ralph Recto said yesterday.
Recto, who is seeking reelection under the Liberal Party, gave the unsolicited advice that the power contracted should not exceed the demand.
“Contracted power should be at a level just enough to plug the shortage. If it is a small wound, would you buy yourself a warehouse of antibiotics?” said Recto, who previously served as National Economic and Development Authority chief.
Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., for his part, called on President Arroyo to tackle the issue and call for a special session of Congress.
He said there is an urgent need to call for a special session “because this is a combination of electric power and drought problems.”
De Venecia recalled when he served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and leader of the administration Lakas-CMD party, he took the initiative to hustle up a quorum in the legislative chamber to allow the President to call for a special session and immediately tackle the problem at hand.
De Venecia agreed with the proposal made by his son and namesake Joey de Venecia III and Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza to postpone the barangay elections in October next year and use the P3.5-billion fund to address the drought.
The President, through Section 71 of the Electric Power Crisis Provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, could seek congressional authority, through a joint resolution, to establish additional generating capacity to address a power shortage.
The President has also inherent powers to implement solutions without having to avail of emergency powers through Congress.
Malacañang yesterday clarified that President Arroyo never asked for emergency powers to address the ongoing power shortages in Mindanao.
Deputy presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the President merely adopted the recommendation of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to declare a power crisis in Mindanao to invoke the EPIRA law.
Saludo reiterated that no emergency powers were sought or needed by the President as feared by critics of the administration.
There is no indication that the President would call for a special session of Congress so that this could be taken up and, according to Saludo, Malacañang is still consulting with the leaders of Congress.
Saludo said the President would not call a special session unless she is assured of a quorum in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Saludo noted the impossible task of getting a quorum since most of the lawmakers are busy campaigning for the May 10 elections.
Lawmakers led by Senators Benigno “Noynoy Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas said there is no reason for the President to call for a special session just to address the power crisis in Mindanao since the President’s inherent powers could be used to address the crisis.
They said the power crisis could have been avoided if the administration made preparations ahead.
Recto, on the other hand, said the outgoing administration “might go overboard in securing power contracts to fill up the wattage deficit and put power consumers at the losing end again.” – With Marvin Sy, Aurea Calica, Eva Visperas