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Aquino eyeing P140B Malampaya funds via emergency powers

/ 08:51 PM September 07, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna is claiming that fresh calls to grant President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to avert the looming power crisis is actually meant to allow the administration to use the P140-billion Malampaya Fund for its dubious spending sprees.

“It is nothing but a bogey to justify the grant of emergency powers to President Aquino. This emergency power is probably designed so that Malacañang can dip its fingers again on the Malampaya fund, the spending of which was already restricted by the November 2013 decision of the Supreme Court,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate in a statement.

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Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla earlier claimed that President Aquino has been “seriously considering” seeking emergency powers from Congress after power players expressed little interest in the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which would provide incentives to businesses in using their own power generators during peak hours.

But Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said data from the Department of Energy data pegged the Luzon grid’s capacity at 11,469 megawatts (MW)

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with peak demand set at 8,700 MW, which would yield a power reserve allowance of 2,769 MW.

“This is more than the 400 megawatts deficit that Secretary Petilla claims. Based on the DOE figures itself, even in a tight supply condition, there should be more than enough supply. Even if there would be a short fall of electricity, the government can still tap state-owned power plants like the Malaya power plant and the Sucat power plant. These power plants should be immediately rehabilitated and recommissioned instead of being sold to the private sector,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares suggested that the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) delay or rescind the sale of the 850-megawatt Sucat Thermal Power Plant in Muntinlupa to ensure that the government has enough power reserves to cover for any drop in supply.

“There is more to this phantom shortfall than meets the eye,” said Zarate who noted that the Malampaya Funds, raised from the government share and royalties from oil and gas production in the country, provided the Aquino administration with the best alternative fund source.

In a landmark ruling, which also covered the Priority Development Assistance Fund and President’s Social Fund, the Supreme Court ruled that provisions of the laws allowing the President to use the Malampaya fund for other purposes other than energy related projects was unconstitutional.

Zarate said that P6.258 billion or nearly half of the roughly P15 billion Malampaya Fund the government has spent in the last five years was channeled to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The funds that went to the military have been substantial even though these funds should have been spent for other purposes. If these funds were spent for energy, these could have helped in lowering power costs or lessening the occurrence of brownouts,” said Zarate.

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“It is good that more and more people and agencies are being critical of this proposed emergency powers because on the one hand, it will cause power rate hikes and on the other hand, it will plunder the Malampaya funds,” said Zarate.

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, Benigno Aquino III, Carlos Isagani Zarate, constitutional law, Electricity production and distribution, electricity supply shortage, emergency powers, government funds, law, Legislation, Malampaya fund, News, Philippine Congress, Philippine president, power supply shortage, Supreme Court
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