Bicam begins reconciliation of PNoy 'emergency powers'

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 03 2015 03:56 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2015 11:56 PM

MANILA – As members of the bicameral conference committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate continue to reconcile their versions of the measure granting extra powers to President Aquino, a handful of militants who are members of Gabriela staged a protest action in front of the Midas hotel in Pasay City.

The rally turned ugly and confrontational when guards and security personnel of the hotel forcibly pushed the protesters away.

Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador was delivering her speech when the guards stopped her and led the group away. But members of Gabriela fought back until a scuffle erupted between Salvador and two guards.

The group backed off before it finally settled outside the hotel's parking area already near the San Juan de Dios hospital.

In an interview, Salvador said what President Aquino needs is not emergency powers but "emergency exit."

The group said that from the very beginning, the government has not been clear about the real status of the power supply in Luzon, so there's really no basis to grant the President extra powers.

Inside the hotel, Senator Serge Osmena led the Senate delegation while Representative Rey Umali headed the House contingent.

Many provisions of the separate measures are already reconciled. But the more contentious issue lies on how the payment for the interruptible load program (ILP) should be made. Under the Senate version, only a portion of the expenses due to the ILP can be charged to the Malampaya fund while the House version explicitly allows that all additional expenses in the ILP should be charged to the Malampaya fund.

Umali on Monday said consumers must not be burdened by the expected spikes in electricity prices due to ILP, while Osmena's take is that the increase will only be minimal and there will be no incentives to save on consumption if electricity prices remain the same.

The agreed measure will be brought back to their respective Houses for final approval before it is sent to Malacanang for the President's signature.

The Department of Energy earlier said the critical period is between March 15 to April 14 when the Malampaya natural facility undergoes maintenance shutdown. The temporary shutdown will shave off around 420 megawatts from the Luzon grid.