MANILA, Philippines - Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero said President Benigno Aquino III should also be given “standby power” to address the energy situation in Mindanao.
In a statement, Escudero explained that this power is needed for “extraordinary situations that he can exercise at his own sound discretion without having to run to Congress every now and then and wait for its imprimatur.”
Administration allies in the House of Representatives are already mulling to hold special sessions during the Congressional break to grant Aquino emergency powers.
Escudero said Aquino needs more than emergency powers because of the gravity of the situation.
He said the standby power should be defined within the framework of extreme circumstances and limitations.
It should not be used to repeat mistakes in the past, such as the oversupply of power plants that eventually forced consumers to carry the extra energy costs.
He cited, for example, the time of President Fidel Ramos when he had to seek emergency powers from Congress. He said 40 independent power producers signed contracts with the take or pay provisions with the government, which led to oversupply.
He said the standby power should only be temporary meant to provide immediate remedies in cases of national power emergencies.
"This power crisis in Mindanao is one of those extraordinary circumstances that calls for extraordinary power," Escudero said. "Its impact and its consequences are already felt by every single resident. If long-term solution is not yet readily available in the nearest time frame, then let an immediate remedy be readily provided."
He said the standby power will also allow Aquino to address pricing. “He can impose a price cap to avoid market failure. Fears of monopoly and skyrocketing power prices grip our Mindanao residents aside from the already tenuous power supply issue, but the President can prevent this from happening with the said standby powers and calm the edgy residents," he said.
Last week, Escudero filed Senate Resolution No. 753 asking the Senate committee on energy to look into the real power situation in Mindanao to determine the issues to be resolved and institute policy reforms even if it would mean amending the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.