Insisting he has nothing personal against Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao enjoined him Friday to act on the country’s power supply problem.
“To Secretary Cusi, nothing personal, but I hope we could avoid the occurrence of brownouts not only in Metro Manila but also in the rest of the country. The President appointed you as Secretary of Energy because he believes in you,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao warned foreigners will not invest in a country with power supply problems. He added that consumers are already affected, especially the students attending online classes.
Cusi committed that the Department of Energy (DOE) will face the challenge wholeheartedly.
Pacquiao and Cusi have been at loggerheads over political issues hounding the ruling PDP-Laban party.
However, Sen. Risa Hontiveros stressed the DOE has been helpless over the power outages and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has been remiss in its job.
She slammed the DOE for its seemingly helplessness in protecting the consumers from exorbitant rates and anomalous weighted average cost of capital, and the failure of the ERC to exercise its mandate to lower the charges to fair and realistic levels since 2015.
Hontiveros also raised the national security issue on the supposed control of China over the privately-owned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
The senator called on the government to take back its control over NGCP.
“Because taking back control of our main power grid system requires a system of strict oversight by the state. The individuals to take charge and become system operators should have a proven track record of integrity, competence, and experience in running a complex system operation securely and efficiently, the end goal of which is to deliver reliable, stable, and affordable electricity to all Filipinos,” she said.
Sen. Imee Marcos also aired her stance about the possibility of government getting involved in power generation.
She backed Cusi, who said the government should be involved in power generation to put an end to the issues of power supply.
“The question also arises if the supply of reserves for summer is the issue, will the entry of government into power generation be the answer?” asked Marcos.
“We know how incompetent government was in the past, are we saying that government will be much, much better today?” she added.
Sen. Nancy Binay asked energy officials to prepare their consumers for probable power outages in the coming months.
“It seems to me that we are trying to downplay the scenario instead of preparing for a high possibility that there would be power outages in the coming months because we are already on a red alert level,” said Binay.
She inquired if it’s possible to increase the dependable energy in addition to increasing the energy reserve.
Cusi said the NGCP should comply with the agency’s requirement of securing power reserve to ensure steady supply in the country.
Meanwhile, Sen. Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Committee on Energy, sought the mitigating measures the DOE has put in place to avoid these.
“What are the measures the DOE, together with other agencies and entities, are planning to implement to mitigate or avoid brownouts?” he asked Cusi.
He noted that reserves and the transmission lines will take time and will not happen next week, but brownouts “will happen next week and the weeks to come.”