PH sovereignty compromised

This refers to your editorial, “Unnecessary delays” (11/13/12) which criticized the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and its co-petitioners for asking the Supreme Court to reconsider the sale of the Angat hydroelectric power plant (Ahepp) to Korea Water (K-Water).

In asking the Court to reconsider its Oct. 9, 2012 decision, FDC and its co-petitioners pleaded that the issues be given a second look.

1. K-Water, being fully owned and controlled by the South Korean government, is not just a foreign corporation; it is a foreign government.

2. The editorial justified Ahepp’s sale to K-Water, saying it did not violate the 40-percent foreign ownership limit set by the Constitution because: one, under the amended Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, wholly owned foreign corporations can own hydropower plants; and two, what was sold was only the power plant, not the dam and the waters in the dam.

The first justification is irrelevant. The BOT law does not apply to the Ahepp sale. Under the BOT scheme, full control of the project reverts to government after a stipulated period of time. In Ahepp’s case, what transpired was outright sale.

The second flies in the face of reality and engages in sophistry. The power generation that K-Water will undertake cannot be done without using the waters of Angat River. Waters are explicitly included in Sec. 2, Article XII of the Constitution and the Water Code as a natural resource, the exploration, development and use of which shall be under the full control and supervision of the state, directly or indirectly through joint undertaking with Filipino citizens or corporations with 60-percent Filipino ownership.

The argument that water from Angat River upon being stored in Angat Dam, a manmade structure, ceases to be a natural resource and therefore will become a subject of ordinary commerce and thus can be acquired by foreigners is simply absurd. It will lead to more absurd conclusions like ruling out Tullahan River as a natural resource because the waters there pass through La Mesa Dam and similarly, the waters downstream in Ipo Dam which pass through Angat Dam.

Indeed, the Court retained the National Power Corp. (NPC) as holder of the water rights. But it also allowed NPC to authorize K-Water to use the waters in Angat Dam—an indirect way of circumventing the Constitution and the Water Code.

3. Ahepp’s privatization is not just about power supply generation but about water security, which is basic to life.

4. Angat’s capture by K-Water is completed by the Operations and Maintenance Agreement (one of the two agreements between Psalm and K-Water) which cedes to K-Water the administration, management and operation of Angat Dam and Reservoir. K-Water is also allowed to intervene in the Angat watershed area in case of emergencies. K-Water will henceforth have control over Angat Dam, which supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s domestic needs and provides irrigation for 31,000 hectares of farmlands in Pampanga and Bulacan. It will have effective control over how much water is released by the dam at any given time.

Ahepp’s privatization and, consequently, Angat Dam’s were done at the expense of national sovereignty, national security and the people’s water security. To undo it is extremely necessary.

—RICARDO B. REYES, president,  Freedom from Debt Coalition

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Tags: Ahepp , Angat Dam , Freedom from Debt Coalition , hydroelectric power plant , Korea Water

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