Palace lukewarm to emergency powers vs rate hike?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2014 04:04 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2014 12:05 AM

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III has yet to raise the issue of having emergency powers to address the power situation in the country, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

In an interview with radio dzRB, Coloma stressed, however, that the government is already looking into concrete plans to offset rising power costs, as well as the deterioration of mass transport facilities.

“Hindi pa po tinatalakay ng Pangulo ang bagay na ‘yan sa mga miyembro ng Gabinete. Sa kasalukuyan, ang kautusan ng Pangulo ay hinggil sa patuloy na pag-aaral at paghahanap ng mga kongkretong paraan kung paano maiibsan o mababawasan ang pasanin ng mga mamamayan sanhi ng malaking pagtaas sa halaga ng kuryente noong nakaraang buwan na pansamantalang pinigil ng Korte Suprema,” Coloma said.

Discussions with the power industry stakeholders are ongoing as Coloma acknowledged that “it is important for the players in the power industry to act in a manner consistent with the public welfare as their business is imbued with public interest.”

Several members of the House of Representatives earlier suggested limited powers for Aquino to allow him to control power generation amid the issue of rate hikes.

Power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) was already in the midst of implementing the rate hike until it was stopped by the Supreme Court.

Meralco earlier announced the rate increase, which was to be imposed in three tranches, as a result of the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya gas plant. The shutdown resulted in Meralco buying more expensive electricity from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market to cover for the deficit needed in its jurisdiction.

The distribution firm later warned of rotating blackouts in case it is barred permanently from implementing the rate hike.

“Tungkulin din ng Meralco at ng mga lumalahok sa power industry na sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay maglingkod nang ganap, maghatid ng katanggap-tanggap na serbisyo publiko. At patuloy pong makikipag-ugnayan ang pamahalaan para tiyakin na matatamo p ang layuning ito para sa kapakanan ng ating mga mamamayan,” Coloma said.