Consumers stage protests over brownouts in Occidental Mindoro
CITY CALAPAN – Consumers gathered at the plaza in San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro province on Sunday night, July 17, to peacefully protest the province-wide rotational brownouts.
Forming themselves into “Samahan ng mga Consumers in Occidental Mindoro,” the consumers said the three-hour solidarity walk, which they originally intended to carry out for about five evenings since the first one on Saturday, July 16, is meant to call national attention to their plight.
The around 100 participants started their walk in San Jose plaza at 6:30 p.m. and went through the main streets of the town then met up again at the plaza at around 8 p.m. for a short program.
The series of protest rallies the organizers have been planning, however, had to be postponed for Monday due to bad weather. The group has not yet issued a new schedule when the three remaining rallies will be conducted.
“The province has been enduring the 12 to 14 hours intermittent power outages due to shortage of power supply which has profoundly affected the daily activities of all sectors,” a statement from the group said.
“This is to call out the dysfunctional service of the province’s power provider and distributor, and express our dissatisfaction over this decades-long crisis,” said Kin delos Reyes, an initiator of the rally.
They condemned the incompetence of the electric service in the province which was worsened when power provider Occidental Mindoro Consolidated Power Corporation (OMCPC) closed on June 25, affecting more than 80,000 residents with a 48-hour blackout.
Since March this year, the province has been experiencing constant power interruptions that last for 5 to 6 hours per area scheduled every day and even longer unscheduled power outages, residents said.
“Tama na ang turuan, Aksiyon naman (That’s enough passing the blame, it’s time for action)”, “Let there be light”, “URGENT SOLUTION!”, were among the messages in the placards brought by the black-clad protesters who walkd the main thoroughfares in town.
“Almost all of us are first time rallyists but we feel the solidarity of others in finding solutions,” delos Reyes said.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) did not agree to extend the transition period between OMCPC and Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (Omeco).
Power resumed after ERC said OMPC should supply power to Omeco based on the power supply agreement signed in January. But only 12 megawatts was returned while the province needs 25 to 27 megawatts supply.
OMCPC said they can not make their 20 megawatts operate without the approval of the ERC and that they have filed a motion for clarification before the ERC. Omeco appealed for temporary approval of the ERC.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial council) in its legislative inquiry on July 15 declared a “State of Power Crisis” to “alarm the bell” for all stakeholders and to give basis to government agencies, especially those from the national government, including the office of the President, to act on the power crisis, said presiding officer Vice Governor Diana Apigo, in her social media post.
The council’s resolution will be submitted to the Committee on Power at the Senate and Congress, the ERC and the National Power Corporation.
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