DOE: Economic cha-cha to create more jobs in renewable energy

DOE: Economic cha-cha to create more jobs in renewable energy

But ex-solon fears foreign hand in PH energy sector
/ 06:38 PM February 29, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Department of Energy (DOE) believes that 1.5 million jobs may be created in the renewable energy sector if amendments to the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions push through.

At the hearing of the House committee of the whole on Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7, Energy Undersecretary Sharon Garin said 1.5 million new jobs are possible since an additional 357,459 individuals were employed in the renewable energy sector in 2022 when the government allowed 100 percent foreign ownership in the industry.

With this as a guide, Garin said there may be 10 direct jobs and 30 indirect jobs generated per megawatt (MW).


“[The] estimated direct and indirect job generation for 2023 new contracts based on potential capacity is at least 1.5 million positions,” Garin said during the committee of the whole hearing on Wednesday.


“Other than investments in the development of [renewable energy], other components that will come in because of the trillions of investment from foreign investors is port development. We will need at least 10 new ports in order to cater to offshore wind projects,” she added.

Additionally, there may be more jobs stemming from foreign investments in ports and mining of rare earth metals like vanadium, a critical component of steel alloys that are used in creating space vehicles, nuclear reactors, aircraft carriers, and various other applications.

“In mining, the battery components include rare earth metals from our indigenous resources, including Vanadium and Scandium […] The additional transmission lines, including a newly proposed smart green grid, will require more copper,” she noted.

However, former lawmaker and current Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares expressed concerns over opening the economy further, noting that ideally, the government should be in control of key utilities to ensure that operations are driven by service, not profit.

Colmenares was also present in the hearing as a resource person.

“In my opinion, it will have implications […] what are public utilities?  These are important industries to a country — water, electricity, transportation, communication, that we hope are operated by the government.  That should not be for private companies, because the moment it is privatized, of course, service is just an afterthought, and profit is the main motivation,” Colmenares said.


“The problem here is that it is not only privatized, it will also be foreign-owned.  Public service to the Filipino people becomes service to foreign stockholders,” he added.

Colmenares also highlighted that having foreigners operate key industries presents a national security issue, citing a possibility that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) can be controlled by Chinese investors who can manipulate the country’s electric supply when tensions rise on the West Philippine Sea.

READ: NGCP: China ownership is not a national security threat

“The second is, of course, national security implications. Are we not afraid that when a foreign country handles our electric grid, water supply, even transportation and communications, we will have a huge problem because this is the lifeblood of society, Mr. Chair?” he said.

“So if we open restrictions, can China increase from 40 percent to 80 (percent) or 90 percent in NGCP?  Can other countries enter?  When China handles, for example, Mr. Chair, our big generation or distribution utilities, then there is a dispute in the West Philippine Sea, they can just put Luzon on a blackout and we will have no choice but to kneel to China.  Is that something we anticipate, Mr. Chair?” he asked.

This is not the first time people have been concerned over China’s involvement in NGCP.  Last May 2023, Santa Rosa City Rep. Dan Fernandez questioned whether or not NGCP can be held accountable for the power outage that hit the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last January 1, 2023.

NGCP then “categorically denied” accusations of being behind the power issues, insisting that their system cannot be controlled remotely.  NGCP officials also noted that they are a Filipino corporation and that they remain committed to providing electricity to the country.

Both the House and the Senate are hearing proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions: the committee of the whole started discussing RBH No. 7 last Monday, while the Senate started deliberating RBH No. 6 in early February.

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Both proposals seek to amend Article XII, Article XIV, and Article XVI of the Constitution by inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” — allowing Congress to legislate laws that would dictate the percentage of foreign ownership in public utilities, basic education, and advertising.

TAGS: DoE, economic Cha-cha, Employment, Energy, Jobs

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