Sunday, September 20, 2009

Possible power outages alarm solon

By Karen Lapitan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:03:00 09/20/2009

Filed Under: Electricity Production & Distribution, Eleksyon 2010

LIPA CITY – Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo has expressed alarm over pronouncements by energy officials of a possible power shortage starting next year – a presidential election year.

Ocampo, speaking at a forum here marking the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, said that power shortages in the past provided justification for giving emergency powers to the president.

The militant lawmaker, who has announced his intention to run for a Senate seat next year, said he shuddered to think of the possibility that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would be given emergency powers if a series of blackouts were to occur next year.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes has been warning that there could be a power shortage in the Visayas starting next year and could affect Mindanao and Luzon in the succeeding years unless additional power plant capacities were developed.

“We already had a negative experience with power failures before, which led to giving emergency powers to the president,” said Ocampo, referring to the term of former president Fidel Ramos.

Those emergency powers, Ocampo said, were intended to immediately solve daily, eight-to-10-hour brownouts all over the country, and gave (Ramos) full authority to enter into contracts with independent power producers. These contracts are now cited as one reason why electricity rates in the country are very high.

“Arroyo can use the power shortage issue to exercise extra authority,” Ocampo warned, adding that this will be more threatening since President Arroyo is known to have a longer list of corruption issues, and is more unpopular than Ramos ever was.

“It seems that Arroyo has studied the tactics of [Ferdinand] Marcos,” he said.

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