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Contradicting statements from power industry players

12:01 AM January 13, 2016

Folks, do we hear this right? The Department of Energy is telling us there’s no guarantee of brownout-free elections.

Mindanao Development Authority or MinDA, on the other hand, is telling us the opposite:  Mindanao will absolutely be brownout-free.

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But the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) is saying Mindanao faces a looming power grid collapse.

Well, it’s not at all surprising to hear different, confusing tunes these days as the country gears up for the national elections in May this year. The game of lies and deception is on. We’ve heard and seen these before. Every election season.

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But what is really disturbing and alarming is the contradicting statements made public by these agencies on the state of the power supply in Mindanao.

First, doesn’t the DOE,  being the lead agency of government when it comes to electricity, has the mandate to “improve the quality of life of the Filipino by formulating and implementing policies and programs to ensure sustainable, stable, secure, sufficient and accessible energy”?

The DOE also says: “In pursuit of this mission, we commit to render efficient service with utmost integrity and professionalism.”

If the DOE can’t guarantee brownout-free elections, then why flaunt the words “to render efficient service?” I might as well suggest to its leadership: Revise your mandate or, better still, declare yourself redundant.

Second, it’s comforting to note that MinDA has this positive outlook.  Even if MinDA knows pretty well the power situation, at least, it shunned from making scary announcements.

With the coming operations of the newest 300-MW coal-fired power plant in Davao, MinDA is assuring the public of sustained  power supply in Mindanao barring any untoward incidents like the bombing of power facilities.

Third, NGCP is now into an information frenzy, adjusting its alert level to yellow, a result of “gasping” power reserves brought about by a series of bombings, which prompted it to seek public help.

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But then, let’s revisit NGCP’s mandate. Isn’t its duty to “contribute to the nation’s social and economic development and satisfy our stakeholders’ needs by efficiently developing and adequately operating the power grid to provide reliable electricity transmission service”?

If we take a closer look, NGCP has a commitment to the Filipino people to “provide reliable power transmission service.”  In operation for over five years now, NGCP, with its battle cry—“stronger transmission for a stronger nation”—has faced acid tests from day one up to this day.

NGCP has been hounded by right-of-way and easement problems, not to mention the corporate infighting that turned into temporary nightmares among the people behind the country’s only power transmission operator, a creation of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

The time has come to challenge the next batch of lawmakers: Amend the Epira.  Foreigners have no business running our power facilities. Right now, NGCP  has the Chinese sharing its corporate cake.

Do we need to remind our lawmakers that the country’s power transmission facilities are a national security concern?

—RUFFY MAGBANUA, chair, Movement for a Brownout-Free Mindanao, [email protected]

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TAGS: brownout, department of energy, Elections 2016, Mindanao Development Authority
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