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Pimentel downplays ‘failed polls’ scenario with Mindanao power shortage

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Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, Philippines — Team PNoy senatorial candidate Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III twitted on Sunday, allegations by the opposition that the current power shortage in Mindanao could be a prelude to a sabotage of the outcome of the automated election in the region.

“The Department of Energy (DOE) has already made an assurance that Mindanao will have additional power by 2015 as indicated by committed projects in the region. Earlier, Aboitiz Equity ventures said Mindanao will be among the focus of the company in its P85-billion investments in the next four years,” the reelectionist said.

He added that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the DOE have also made assurances that measures have been undertaken to address the energy issues in Mindanao until 2015.

Earlier, the Comelec also assured the public that the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines could function for several hours despite a power outage.

Candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) opposition coalition earlier aired warning that groups out to sabotage the elections in Mindanao would likely take advantage of the power outages given the fact that the PCOS machines rely heavily on power.

Without adequate power supply, the opposition claimed that the PCOS machines might fail to transmit results and this situation could lead to a failure of elections.

“For the opposition to say that the administration could take advantage of the situation in Mindanao to rig the results of the May 13 polls is to me plain grandstanding. They can do better than that,” Pimentel noted.

Fellow administration bet Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, on the other hand, urged the DoE to “immediately contract out power barges for brownout-plagued areas of Southern Mindanao to ease the rotating power interruptions in the region.”

Angara, incumbent Aurora representative, said the government should enter into negotiated contracts, if necessary.

“The DOE is now governed by a culture of integrity. So even the use of negotiated contracts just to acquire power barges is an option to fast-track the solution to the power problem there,” Angara said.

Angara said the surge of business activity and its resulting increase in power consumption have caused power interruptions in Southern Mindanao. Nonetheless, he said, these should be seen as signs of business confidence and economic dynamism in the region.

Mindanao has at present a power shortfall of 294 megawatts. The demand is at 1,157 MW while the actual supply is only 863 MW.

Angara adverted to reports that said the government has earmarked P3.8 billion for the country’s power capabilities.

He said the budget has included allocation for the rehabilitation of existing hydroelectric power plants in the south. The government is also looking into the possibility of using a 300-MW interruptible power load plan to solve the island’s power problems.

Angara said the inclusion of power projects in the public-private partnerships list by President Aquino has guaranteed solutions to the power problems in the medium term and the long-term.

“The focus right now should be on looking for short-term relief and acquiring power barges via negotiation as an option,” Angara said.

Angara said negotiations to acquire power barges could be monitored by civil society and good governance groups.

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Tags: 2013 midterm elections , Aboitiz Equity Ventures , Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III , Department of Energy , Elections , Electricity production and distribution , failure of elections , Mindanao , News , power shortage , precinct count optical scan machines , Regions , senatorial elections , Sonny Angara , Team PNoy , United Nationalist Alliance

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