“How sad that we have gas coming from Malampaya; yet, we have to pay for the gas that we use for generating power in Luzon at world market prices.”
by Ducky Paredes
Even before the present administration took over, energy officials already knew of the impending crisis. It is on record that on February 10, 2010.That was the day the National Power Corporation submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) a proposal for the rehabilitation of the Agus VI Hydro-Electric Power Plant (otherwise known as Maria Cristina in Lanao del Norte) which has been in operation since 1985.
The President then (Gloria Arroyo) had less than half-a-year to her last term and, thus, the natural reluctance to undertake an expensive project.
On August 24, 2010, the incoming administration approved the P2.5 billion budget to fund the rehab. Secretary of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima informed the NPC of the approval. Before it could start on the rehab, however, the NPC needed a joint resolution from both the NPC and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), which holds the titles to all our generating assets, and the endorsement and approval of the Department of Energy (DOE).
Nothing happened for almost two years. It was only when Mindanao was already in power crisis mode in March 2012that the DOE announced its approval of the project, Actual rehab is expected to take three years from start to finish, Meanwhile, even before the crisis, the DOE signed a contract with Thermal Energy, which is part of the Aboitiz Group of Companies, for the deployment of two power barges that could deliver 200 megawatts to the island.
Could this have been done on purpose? I ask because when the President visited Mindanao to talk to Mindanao’s power stakeholders in what was hailed as the Mindanao Energy Summit, the President told them to bite the bullet on higher power costs and Secretary Rene Almendras (who was once an Aboitiz executive) suggested that all of NPC’s power units in Mindanao be privatized. Is this a solution? Most of the Mindanao stakeholders, knowing how greedy private business can become, reject privatization as a solution to the crisis!
They also reject the idea that all we can do is grin and bear whatever the power and oil companies impose on us.
How sad that we have gas coming from Malampaya; yet, we have to pay for the gas that we use for generating power in Luzon at world market prices. If we did not have Shell and Chevron as majority partners in the gas consortium, we could have much cheaper power from our own well in Malampaya. Wouldn’t that make more sense that paying more for our own gas plus the expenses claimed by our foreign majority partners. (Their claimed expenses are paid out of what royalties we collect from for the gas extracted in Malampaya!)
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Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) President Antonio Callao, a holdover from the Arroyo government, started the idea, during Gloria’s presidency, of selling the 10% owned by PNOC Exploration in Malampaya (Shell and Chevron each own 45% ) towards the end of Gloria’s term.
Thanks to the PNOC Exploration board of directors that vehemently opposed this, the sale did not go thought. Callao’s other advocacy is to extend the deal with Chevron and Shell for another 13 years.
Are our energy officials working for this country or for the private [power sector companies and for the oil giants that have been controlling our oil supply since time immemorial?
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If regular senators and congressmen are subject to term limits, why are party-lists not also subject to the same thing?
If the idea is that positions are not supposed to be passed from father-to-son or husband-to-wife or one relative to the other, why does this not apply to party-listers?
The whole experiment on having party-lists seems to be a failure. This has not improved either the intellectual stock in congress not has it resulted in more honest discourse nor the influx of new and original ideas. In fact, having party-list congressmen seems to me to only mean having more mouths for us the taxpayers to feed. Having them is no blessing; it just means more congressmen!
Now, we have congressmen who, if elected by a district, have to retire (or rest for at least one term) when reaching their term limit.
Yet, a party-list has no term limits. The party-list can be elected for as many terms as congress has to offer. This is wrong. A party-list ought to be treated in exactly the same way as a district congressman .
The fact is that it is easier to become a congessman running under a party-list than going mano-a-mano against another candidate in the same district simply because a party-list can be voted upon by all of the voters from all over the country, while only voters of a district can vote for a regular congressman.
The party-list has a wider voter base and needs only a miniscule percentage of those millions of votes to become a congressman while a regular congressman must take 50% plus one vote in what is usually a two-man contest.
If we treat a party-list the exact same way that we treat a regular congressman, the party-list would have to forego an election on reaching its third term.
It should not matter that there are three persons who could share every term. Term-sharing has not been a common practice even amongst party-listers. There are party-lists that have been in congress for far too many years than they deserve to be. What do they contribute to the work of our congress?
Giving them a rest every three congressional elections would probably improve their work and our choices..
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hvp 07.04.12Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at email@example.com