Hontiveros: Foreign ownership didn't fix PH's power instabilities

Hontiveros on Cha-cha: Foreign ownership didn’t fix PH’s power instabilities

/ 03:47 PM February 16, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday rejected claims that permitting foreign ownership through Charter change (Cha-cha) would bolster the Philippine economy.

In a statement, Hontiveros pointed out that the current foreign involvement in public utilities did not solve “power instabilities” plaguing Filipino consumers.

READ: Cha-cha: No for framers, yes for foreign chambers 


“Kahit na may dayuhang nagmamay-ari sa ating transmission grid, taun-taon na lang, kada papasok ang summer months, nakararanas pa rin tayo ng rotating blackouts sa Luzon at Visayas sa kabila ng mas mataas na presyo ng kuryente sa panahong ito,” she said.


(Even though there is a foreign owner in our transmission grid, every year, every time the summer months begin, we still experience rotating blackouts in Luzon and Visayas despite the higher price of electricity during this time.)

“It’s crucial to question our economic agencies because we’re examining if an economic Charter change is still needed, given significant foreign investment. For example, renewable energy investment alone reportedly totals $13.76 billion,” Hontiveros stressed.

Instead of Cha-cha, the senator said the national government should shift its focus on the “concentration of ownership,” especially in the power sector.

Citing 2022 data, Hontiveros said 11 families control 43 percent of generation capacity, 40 percent of captive connections, and 68 percent of utility sales.

“We need to pause and reconsider. The heavy ownership control by the same families in generation, transmission, and distribution likely stifles investment in power generation. Despite opening to foreigners over two decades ago, removing barriers hasn’t spurred new supplies, as these family incumbents preempt access to consumers,” she said.

She likewise noted the need to allow ordinary consumers to own generation and distribution assets, explaining that broader ownership and participation in the power industry is “a way to democratize access to the benefits and opportunities” for all. Melanie Tamayo, INQUIRER.net trainee

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TAGS: economic Cha-cha, Foreign, Risa Hontiveros

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