Gatchalian seeks probe on possible ‘collusion’ amid power outages
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian wants the government to look into the possible “collusion” among power companies as he warned of higher electricity rates and incidents of brownouts during the May elections.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, specifically asked the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to conduct the inquiry after a “red alert” was raised in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
In calling for the probe, Gatchalian noted the reported 1,400 megawatts power outage that resulted in service interruptions in some areas in Bulacan and Cavite.
The senator recalled that during a Senate hearing, they were assured that there will be no unscheduled or forced shutdown of power plants.
“Of course ang caveat nila dun, walang masisirang planta pero ang tanong, bakit my nasirang planta?” he said in an interview at the Senate on Wednesday.
Asked then if there was collusion, he said: “We have to look at that because nag spike ang presyo to P8 sa WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) eh. So we have to really study this incident very carefully.”
“Ang laki ng nawala almost 1, 400 megawatts out of the close to 13,000 megawatts here in Luzon so close to 5 percent ng supply natin nawala bigla.”
Gatchalian explained that consumers bear the brunt when electricity firms are forced to buy at WESM at a higher price.
Pressed about the possibility of collusion, the senator said: “We have to study it carefully. But definitely, this warrants a study and an inquiry by the DOE and PCC.”
Gatchalian also feared that the power outages might extend until the May elections, noting that the 1,400 megawatts power outage involved several power plants.
“Kasi normally pag nag a-outage ilang planta lang, dalawa o tatlong planta. But if you’re talking abut 1,400 at maraming planta ito, then tumataas yung possibility na magkakaron tayo ng brownout sa election,” said the senator.
“And that should be the primary concern of DOE na siguraduhin nila na may kuryente tayo sa election or else that will create a lot of tension during the election period,” Gatchalian pointed out. /jpv