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Palace should decide asap whether to use emergency powers or not

Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian today urged Malacañang to immediately decide on whether the President will invoke emergency powers to deal with the looming power crisis next year as further delay will not augur well with the country’s economy.


Gatchalian issued the call in reaction to a news report that Malacañang has downplayed its own technical report categorically stating that the government “will invoke” emergency powers to avert a looming energy shortage in Luzon next year.  President Aquino, according to his spokesman, had yet to make up his mind on Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) to deal with the impending energy crisis.

“Malacañang must have a reason why they are not moving on the emergency powers under the EPIRA even though it was stated in their SONA technical papers. If that is the case, they should at least explain through the joint power committee what the other options are,” Gatchalian said.

Based on projections, Gatchalian said the Luzon power crisis can reduce the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 1.5 percent if the Luzon power shortage is not averted.

“The Filipino people should know the real situation and the quickest solution. Poverty will continue to worsen since power shortage will means less jobs and less income,” Gatchalian pointed out.

Section 71 of the EPIRA law states that “Upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.”

A technical report on the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) categorically said that the government will invoke the said power crisis provision to address the looming power shortage.

“Upon issuance of the joint [congressional] resolution, the government would contract a private proponent to construct capacities equivalent to 500 to 600 MW power plants and operate and maintain the same for a period of five years,” the report was quoted as saying.

In his SONA last month, the President said the “goal” is to have “planned solutions,” adding he already tasked the Energy secretary to coordinate with concerned agencies and stakeholders.

Gatchalian, a senior vice chair on the House committee on Metro Manila development, said providing concrete solutions to the crisis as soon as possible is crucial in cushioning its effects on the economy.

“The gains we earned in terms of competitiveness will go to waste if the government does not immediately find effective solutions to the looming power shortage next year. Such shortage of 400 megawatts will specially hit Luzon, the cradle of government and business processes,” said Gatchalian.

The lawmaker cited the latest Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum which showed that the Philippines climbed six notches up from the 65th place out of 148 countries in the previous report. However, the country still has to better its infrastructure such as airports, seaports, and transportation facilities.

The country’s economic gains can also be wiped out by the said power crisis, Gatchalian noted, as there is a 1.5%-increment in energy demand per 1%-increase in economic growth rate.

“The government needs to make doing business here in the Philippines easier. We must not forget that investors need to make sure their target areas have a hospitable environment for business, and this requires adequate infrastructure and sufficient power supply. We must show investors that the government is steps ahead of the situation. This is vital as we need to keep our businessmen from closing shop or transferring to other countries and potential investors from considering other competitors in the Southeast Asian region,” Gatchalian said.