MANILA, Philippines - A bill seeking to give President Aquino emergency powers to address the energy situation was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives.
In filing Bill 3743, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the country would experience electricity shortage in two to three years unless more power plants are built starting now.
He noted that the demand for electricity is growing because the nation is experiencing unprecedented economic growth. “Higher economic growth means higher demand for electricity, and vice versa.”
Evardone also pointed out that the Department of Energy (DOE) is worried about the situation.
“Based on DOE’s estimates, there is already an energy crisis in Mindanao, which will get worse before it gets better, while an energy crisis looms in Luzon and the Visayas,” he said.
“While everyone recognizes the role of electricity in our daily lives, the energy market players seemed not to care,” he lamented.
Under his bill, President Aquino would be authorized to enter into negotiated contracts for the immediate construction of new state-owned power plants to serve as standby generators for Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao under the National Transmission Corp. (Transco).
Transco would retain all earnings of the plants for their operation and maintenance.
The President would also be authorized to enter into negotiated contracts for the repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of existing government-owned power plants, subject to certain requirements, including publication of plants to be rehabilitated, list of interested contractors and their expertise.
The Evardone bill also gives the President the power to suspend the 12-percent value added tax on electricity whenever necessary.
But the President would be prohibited from granting sovereign guarantees to contractors or investors.
He would be authorized to grant incentives to investors in renewable energy, in addition to those provided under existing laws.
The proposed emergency powers would be good for one year unless sooner withdrawn by a resolution of Congress, without prejudice to rights and benefits that may have been vested, and culpabilities and liabilities that may have been incurred.
The President would be exempted from following the Government Procurement Act in exercising the proposed powers.
He would be required to make a quarterly report to Congress on his exercise of those powers. An oversight committee of five senators and five House members would monitor such exercise.– With Mayen Jaymalin