By Mario Casayuran
Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday asked the Duterte administration to act fast to address a looming energy crisis which might be worsened by the energy demands of its massive ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.
“We do not have any source of hydrocarbon energy in the country except Malampaya. If a war happens in Russia or in the Middle East or in Africa or in Latin America that will affect the supply of crude, what do you think will happen here? In one week’s time, we will not have enough supply of power,” Enrile said.
At present, the Malampaya Natural Gas Facility, which provides 30 percent of Luzon’s total supply of power, is estimated to run out of gas reserves by 2024. This will significantly reduce the already low power reserve of the country.
Enrile, a former acting Finance Secretary and Defense Minister during the Marcos administration, said one of the grave effects of a potential crisis is a lack of food and other resources in Metro Manila.
He said that the “transport system will not operate without diesel and gasoline”.
If he is able to secure a comeback to the 24-man Senate through the May 2019 mid-term elections, Enrile said that he would focus on the creation of sources of energy to ensure the Philippines would not be totally dependent on imported fuel for the bulk of its power requirements.
Having sufficient supply of energy, he said, would guarantee that Filipinos would be protected from the impact in the spike of prices of oil and other petroleum products in the global market.
“We must make sure that there would be enough supply for all our economic activities amid a surge in the costs of oil or even the lack of it,” he added.
Enrile said this would also contribute to the reduction of the cost of electricity and prices of goods that would greatly benefit consumers.
The veteran lawmaker also warned against the impending global oil crisis which might result in conflict between nations.
“Energy is a problem in this century. That will be a source of wars in this century. Without that, the globe will stop,” Enrile said, adding: “That’s why Russia is now controlling the Arctic Sea because of the scarcity. All of this is finite. ‘Yung crudo is not self-producing. Mauubos ‘yan – even uranium (Crude oil is not sefl-producing, even uranium).’’
“All of these things must be under the awareness of people who are handling power in this country,” the four-term Senator remarked.
Enrile said power demand has also steadily increased because of the country’s economic growth, the demand of the manufacturing industry, and an increase in power-intensive infrastructure projects such as the administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.
Despite its mandate to put energy security and sufficiency at the forefront of its energy direction, it was reported that the Department of Energy (DOE) still failed to articulate this matter in its Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2017-2044, he added.
Records from the DOE show that the Philippines remains heavily dependent on external sources for its petroleum supplies, importing 94 percent of its oil requirements.
The World Economic Council (WEC) Energy Trilemma Index, which ranks the performance of each country based on energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability, showed the Philippines ranked 74 out of 125 countries in 2018.