‘Emergency powers for Aquino must be limited’
MANILA, Philippines–A legislator on Thursday said that any proposal to grant emergency powers to President Aquino so he could address the looming power crisis should have well-defined parameters and safeguards against abuse.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, former executive director of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said the government should have learned the lessons of the past in dealing with power supply problems.
He said he supported the recommendation of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for Aquino to declare a state of emergency in the energy sector–but any emergency powers granted to Mr. Aquino must be limited and well-defined.
Albano cited the power crisis during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos when the grant of emergency powers to the latter “resulted in onerous power supply contracts with independent power producers at the expense of all consumers.”
“The power purchase agreements (PPAs) entered into by the Ramos government with independent power producers to solve the crippling energy crisis during the latter part of the Cory Aquino administration guaranteed payment of all power supply contracts regardless of whether the power generated was supplied and used or not,” he said.
Albano, who is a member of the minority bloc and the energy committee in the House, said President Aquino would first need to ask Congress for such emergency powers.
“All this talk about emergency powers… will just be a lot of hot air and political posturing for nothing without President Aquino himself asking Congress for a special power to allow the government to ably respond to the power supply shortage,” he said.
“Only then can the legislative mill turn its wheels to study the power supply shortage and determine the scope and parameters of the proposal of the energy department for the declaration of a state of emergency,” Albano said.
He said the scope of the emergency powers to be given the President should be limited to concerns that could accelerate the construction and operation of new power plants at the soonest possible time.
It “should not be used as a license to create excess power supply and power plants whose costs would ultimately be passed on to all electricity consumers,” Albano said.
“We are learning the hard way all the painful lessons of the past which continue to bleed electricity consumers today. We already burden consumers and business and industry with the highest power rates in Asia,” Albano said.
He warned energy industry players not to take advantage of the situation.
“Any attempt to use the present power supply shortage as an excuse for emergency powers just to repeat and perpetuate the anomalous PPA contracts and excess power supply abuses of the past will be exposed and will face stiff opposition. These abuses will be trashed by the people,” Albano said.
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