PNoy to Mindanao residents: pay higher power rates or live with brownouts

Subscribe Now May 07, 2014 at 06:11pm

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday said Mindanao residents have only two options: pay higher power rates or live with the rotating brownouts.

Aquino, in his keynote speech during the Mindanao Power Summit, said the people of Mindanao must “put in (their) fair share” in solving the power shortage problem by paying “a little more.”

“You have to pay more because this is the reality of economics, not the rhetoric of politics. Everything has its price,” he said.

“You have to pay a real price for a real service. There are only two choices: pay a little more for energy, or live with the rotating brownouts,” the President added.

Aquino said Mindanao residents need to realize that “the old days of cheap power are no longer sustainable.”

“I understand some cooperatives are paying an additional fifty to sixty centavos per kilowatt hour — this is in contrast to certain quarters who prefer to sow intrigue rather than to face the facts; and who chose to alarm the public by extravagant claims of Mindanaoans having to pay up to 14 pesos more per kilowatt hour. This is simply not true,” he said.

“But, still, prices will increase; and you need to play your part. Ambag ambag tayo dito (We all have to pitch-in here),” Aquino added.

Meanwhile, Davao del Norte Goveror Rodolfo del Rosario on Friday raised fears that the insistence by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation to privatize the power facilities in Mindanao, including the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants, might result in a monopoly in the industry.

“Baka ma-kartel lang tayo (This could result in a cartel)...control in the hands of the few,” Del Rosario told reporters.

The governor cautioned against embracing privatization because its perceived advantages usually do not materialize.

“We always say that privatization will help because of efficiency, because of cheaper cost of operating. But technically, these are not happening. I guess there has to be a combination of private and public. I agree with the principle of the President when it comes to power—less for private and more on public. That kind of partnership,” said Del Rosario.

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Mindanao said that the power summit would only yield band-aid solution to the problem.

“The Aquino government, despite of its intention to resolve the crisis, can and will never have the rightful solution to the power crisis in Mindanao, because it cannot defy the dictates of its imperialist master and its big bourgeois comprador accomplices,” said Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of NDFP-Mindanao.

Foreign monopoly capitalists will always make “certain that any threat to their established dominance in Mindanao’s power market and industry will be thwarted," according to Madlos.

He said the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, passed during the Ramos administration is the culprit because it was instrumental in putting the power industry under the control of a few private companies such as those owned by the groups of Sy, Aboitiz, Alcantara-Dominguez, and Lopez.

“They have control over the generation and distribution of power in the island. The obviously contrived power shortage in the island works in favour of satisfying the insatiable lust of these groups for profit, at the very expense of the people,” Madlos said.


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