MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino asked critics to keep an open mind about the government's proposed solutions in solving the power shortage in Mindanao.
In a hastily called press briefing in Malacañang primarily to discuss the Mindanao power situation, Aquino said that the government is exploring ways to increase the power output in Mindanao as demand grows.
While stressing that he has not yet said that he is "totally in favor" of privatizing the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants, Aquino pointed out Luzon increased its available capacity when several power plants were privatized.
He said that Mindanao's exemption from the EPIRA law has delayed the privatization of assets of the National Power Corporation.
"Buksan lang natin ng konti ang pag-iisip natin. Tapos historical data e. Sila exempted sa EPIRA. Eto ang sitwasyon sa kasalukuyan. Paano magbabago ang sitwasyon kung hindi papalitan 'yung umiiral nang pagkatagal-tagal?" Aquino said.
He said that he is open to exploring renewable sources of energy, including solar energy, but pointed out that these may be costly and wondered if consumers are ready to pay for the increased cost of clean energy.
He said the challenge is to encourage more investors to build power plants, adding that no investors will be enticed if the generating charge is higher than the cost of selling power.
On proposals to build nuclear plants, Aquino said that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is still conducting a study, but he expressed worry over its safety, citing what happened with the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami last year.
"Inaalala ko lang nga 'yung when you have the Japanese who had that tragedy in Fukushima, you have the Germans rethinking about utilizing nuclear energy. And when we look at how meticulous and studious they are in following all of the rules and regulations to ensure safety and we are not as meticulous and studious… we really have to study the matter very, very well. Japan, with all [its] technological prowess, was very hard put to address the situation in Fukushima and they've been utilizing nuclear energy for quite a long time. So tayo na nascent can we say that we will do better than them?" he said.
Aquino ruled out providing subsidy for power saying that public funds would be better used to deliver social services and that providing subsidies may not encourage consumers to save energy.