Pacquiao bares irregularities in DOE led to higher power costs; Cusi denies claims
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao on Thursday bared alleged irregularities in the Department of Energy (DOE) that resulted in higher electricity costs being passed on to consumers, a charge quickly denied by erstwhile ally Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Pacquiao, during interpellation on the proposed DOE budget for 2022, lamented how certain political allies are taking advantage of controlling the power sector, and even named Cusi as being “busy with politics” while power costs continue to soar.
“Kung mayroong Pharmally ang [Department of Health], Starpay ang [Department of Services and Social Development], ay mayroon namang PEMC-IEMOP ang DOE,” the senator said.
“Ang mas masakit pa ay ginawa pang raket ng mga magkakamag-anak, magkakaibigan, at magkakampi ang pagpatakbo sa ating electricity spot market,” he further said.
Pacquiao is referring to the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), which are involved in the operation and management of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
“Iisa po ang modus ngayon. Magtatayo ng bagong kumpanya na katiting ang capital, walang experience or kakayahan, at kukuha ng kontrata sa gobyerno na bilyon-bilyon ang kita,” Pacquiao said.
PEMC, IEMOP issue
In his video presentation, Pacquiao said that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 states that only one independent operator should run the electricity spot market.
Pacquiao said that in 2004, PEMC was tasked to temporarily manage WESM. The senator said PEMC’s operations should have stopped when IEMOP entered to manage WESM.
Further, Pacquiao alleged that it is also PEMC that serves as the governing arm of the WESM, directing the IEMOP on what policies shall be implemented in running it.
This raises questions since IEMOP, which should supposedly be an independent market operator, is allegedly being controlled by PEMC, which is run by players in the power sector, the senator pointed out.
“Nakita natin kung paano sinindikato ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ang EPIRA Law upang lalo pang magkamal ng kapangyarihan at salapi. ‘Yung trabahong para sa isa ay ginawang dalawa kaya doble-doble ang bayarin ng ating mga consumers,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao likewise raised that with PEMC and IEMOP both running the WESM, the two groups are asking the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to raise the market transaction fee—amounting to more than P1 billion in 2020—which would be passed on to consumers.
“Maliwanag na napagsasamantalahan ang taumbayan. Ito ay dahil sa binabayarang market transaction fee na dapat sana ay sagot ng ating mga generating companies,” Pacquiao said.
“Nakita natin na sa halip na magkaroon ng competition sa spot market na siyang layunin ng EPIRA Law ay nagkakaroon ng sabwatan upang lalong tayong pahirapan,” the senator added.
Failure to meet requirements
Pacquiao likewise said that the implementing rules and regulations of EPIRA states that before a corporation is accepted as an independent market operator of WESM, it should have two years of experience and prove its technical capacity.
However, Pacquiao noted that IEMOP is a new company that was only established in 2018. Moreover, the senator questioned the technical capacity of the corporation.
Pacquiao questioned why Cusi allowed IEMOP to run the WESM when it does not have the required technical capacity, adding that the energy secretary allowed a three-month-old private corporation with a measly P7,000 contribution paid by its seven incorporators to take over the operation of the electricity spot market.
The senator said that while he is not against the budget of DOE, accountability is needed from its officials.
In response to Pacquiao’s allegations, Cusi said that IEMOP was established in compliance with EPIRA Law.
“Tumaas ba ang cost na china-charge ng IEMOP at PEMC sa mga tao? Hindi po,” Cusi said.
“Bakit po ang capitalization ng IEMOP is only P7,000? Kasi nga po non-profit, non-stock organization,” he added.
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