Editorial: Emergency powers, really?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

AS NEWS about administration lawmakers studying a proposal by the Department of Energy (DOE) urging President Benigno Aquino III to declare a state of emergency in the power sector this year to address a potential supply shortfall in Luzon by summer of next year, House committee on energy chair Reynaldo Umali said they are studying the possibility of giving emergency powers to the president should Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla confirm that there is really an impending electricity shortage.

Really now.

For almost a decade now, there has been a warning that Mindanao will be suffering from a shortage. In 2010, this became no longer just a warning, but a reality – an annual reality of Mindanaoans who have to suffer from long hours of power interruption. What did President Aquino have to say then and now? Mindanaoans should be willing to pay high for their power if they want continuous power. As if he even gave Mindanaoans the choice of having power. All he gave was the sneering tone, while Mindanaoans suffered in the dark.


Now, Luzon has been hit. Actually, it wasn’t even Luzon, and it wasn’t even a real power crisis. It was typhoon Glenda toppling all those power lines and rendering majority of the franchise area of Meralco without power.

Thus, the administration panicked.

You don’t need to look far to understand why the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) despite every one’s clamor for piece, almost always hits a snag. You don’t need to look far to understand why the communist rebels have found a fertile haven in Mindanao. It is government officials like these, who see nothing wrong in giving so little to the people of Mindanao, who fan these flames of rebellion and keep them going for a lifetime.

Now their aircondition units in the Metro are rendered inutile because there are no power lines to deliver their most previous electricity, and so they are panicking and rustling up all means to give the president emergency powers. At least, that is what they want us to believe.

If that is all it takes, then how come the Mindanao power solution has never been solved yet?

Clearly, the problem really is in officials who are not doing their jobs. There has been a row of energy secretaries who never saw the need to respond to the situation in Mindanao, and they get prime positions after their failure to do anything afterward. Isn’t it about time for Mindanaoans to raise their voices as one?

Don’t look now, but we are willing to bet that one of those early campaigners for the 2016 elections will be coming over to offer us promises of solving the Mindanao power problem, very, very soon. Let’s not be fooled, ever again, please. Remember there was a humongous summit before where we were promised power barges and stuff? They never arrived, and it’s been years since the elections after those promises were made.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 24, 2014.


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