DOE integrates plan with national security

Published May 10, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) is elevating energy plan aligning it with the security enforcement agencies of the government to address security-linked concerns.

These national security concerns include oil and gas exploration at disputed territories like the West Philippine Sea, and the utilization of military resources, such as properties of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for energy project installations.

The department held discussions last week with the National Security Council (NSC), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the Office of the Civil Defense-National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (OCD-NDRRMC) on integrating security issues in the updating of the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) that will stretch through 2040.

Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said they have been evaluating the impact of global geopolitics in the country’s energy plan – and these are seen most relevant in “utilizing the country’s indigenous resources, especially those located in disputed territories.”

It is no secret that the invitation of the Philippines for new investors to look into oil and gas exploration ventures at the West Philippine Sea has been relentlessly crippled by the diplomatic tension with China.

Through the collaboration with the State’s security enforcement bodies, Fuentebella noted “this will provide DOE a better understanding on how PEP could address energy security gaps in the context of national security.”

Energy Undersecretary Alexander S. Lopez, for his part, indicated that the security facets of the PEP shall be coalesced into the National Security Strategy (NSS) of the Philippines.

With that amalgamation of strategies and energy planning, he pointed out that “the DOE can address all possible threats and challenges to the country’s energy systems.”

In the coordination meeting that the DOE had with NSC, NICA and OCD-NDRRMC, the agencies agreed on key agendas, such as: the integration of national security in the PEP, and the improvement of the Energy Security Chapter in the NSS and the National Security Policy.

Additionally, the DOE shall have its membership with the National Intelligence Committee. There will also be policy review on the possible use of the AFP’s land assets for energy development, and for the electric cooperatives to have facilitated access for a quick response fund in times of disasters, which is under the NDRRMC.

Based on the outcome of that collaborative discussion, NSC Deputy Director General Vicente Agdamag and NICA Assistant Director General Rolando S. Asuncion both expressed support to the energy sector’s plan and the targeted integration of the PEP into the wider national security strategy of the country. (MMV)