Arrogant Osmeña at Senate hearing
This is a reaction to the news item titled “Palace: too soon to rule out power rate fixing,” Inquirer, 1/26/2014), where Sen. Serge Osmeña was reported as asking Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to resign for his failure to order the switch-on of the government-owned Malaya plant during the forced shutdown of several power plants. With the plant back in operation, the trading price of P33/kWh at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in November 2013 could have gone down to P20/kWh, Osmeña pointed out.
The report quoted Senator Osmeña as insisting that the Malaya plant should have been made to operate and its capacity offered for bidding at the WESM. Osmeña reportedly even called Secretary Petilla an “idiot.”
While the name-calling may be explained as Osmeña’s passionate way of addressing a problem such as the price spike at WESM, I find it hard to accept that the senator, who called for the hearing “in aid of legislation” to prevent a repeat of the unprecedented P4.15/kWh price spike, refused to accord a resource person the respect the latter was entitled to. I find it hard to believe that Osmeña, the chair of the committee conducting the hearing, would use his position of authority to slander and malign a Cabinet secretary of the Philippines.
I watched the live coverage of the Senate hearing, and from the exchanges one could easily understand that the Malaya plant, in operation, could only ensure the stability of the transmission system in order to prevent power outages, not to stabilize the WESM price as Senator Osmeña made it appear. The senator’s actuations invited serious suspicion.
It is very disappointing that a Senate hearing called “in aid of legislation” is used by the committee chair as stage for acting as a judge and a lawyer. In his defense of Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Zenaida Ducut, Osmeña lashed at the Akbayan party-list representatives for not knowing the workings of the spot market. The senator should have pursued law and aspired to be a member of the judiciary instead.
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