PSALM assets seizure seen to worsen power woes

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2014 06:26 PM | Updated as of Aug 28 2014 02:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The power crisis could come earlier if the sheriff's office succeeds in garnishing the properties, collectibles and assets of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) after retrenched employees of Napocor won a P60 billion lawsuit at the Supreme Court.

Napocor's assets were turned over to PSALM for management and disposal.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said while PSALM has filed a motion for reconsideration with the Supreme Court en banc, no TRO was issued on the decision.

According to Petilla, three power plants—namely Malaya, Ilijan, and Caliraya—will be affected if PSALM's assets are seized.

Malaya is still on maintenance but Ilijan and Caliraya are both running and have a combined output of 1,700 megawatts of power.

Petilla would not say how much fuel is left for these plants but if the court forces the collection, there will be no funds to buy fuel for the power production.

He said among the options are including the expense in the national budget; using the universal charge to make consumers pay P60 billion; or PSALM again borrows money which will also be passed on to consumers eventually.

Petilla appeals to the Supreme Court to consider national interest since Luzon will experience brownouts without the 1,700 megawatts from the grid.

"We will respect the law kung ano man ang decision. Ang pakiusap ko huwag maapektuhan ang operation ng mga planta," he said.

He added that options are now being studied to raise P60 billion. The energy secretary earlier said he is open to using the Malampaya funds to address the problem.