Finger-pointing won't solve power crisis, senators tell DOE

Published June 3, 2021, 4:56 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators were not satisfied with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) response to the complaints about the brownouts in several parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon (MANILA BULLETIN File photo/Facebook)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday, June 3, slammed the DOE for supposedly shifting the blame to private power companies for its failure to prevent power outages.

In the public briefing on Wednesday, June 2, the DOE reiterated its previous warning of filing charges against power generation companies (GenCos) for economic sabotage for the power interruptions.

“It’s disappointing. Blame everyone except yourself. Where is accountability?” Drilon said in a statement.

“The move is an attempt to shift away the blame from the government which, obviously, failed to prepare for these power outages over the last five years. The DOE is only using power plants as scapegoats for what happened. It’s a cover-up,” he added.

“Blame-shifting won’t solve power crisis,” Drilon further told the DOE.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee, rather found the DOE’s response “reactive”, although he believes this would also compel the GenCos to improve their operations.

“However, this [is] a reactive move and it will not solve the current brownout that we are experiencing. DOE should have anticipated the worse case senario earlier on and put in place contingency measures,” said Gatchalian, who recalled on Wednesday the DOE’s assurance last April that there will be there will be no power shortage in the country anytime soon.

“This is not an isolated case. Every summer, the threat to debilitating brownout is real,” he said in a text message.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also said the DOE was only “power tripping” when it pointed the blame to power companies.

“The people want electric power. Not power tripping by DOE officials. If violations of the law have been committed by the firms they supervise, then ok, enforce the law. But DOE will still have to fulfill its mandate to provide the Filipino people with affordable electricity otherwise they are the ones violating their own charter,” Pimentel said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, sought for clarification on its claim against GenCos as economic sabotage would be a serious charge.

“Ano ang ebidensya nila? Tungkulin at responsibilidad ng DOE na ipaliwanag ng husto ang basehan at ang ebidensya na magpapatunay ng mga nasabing mga paratang. Hindi biro at seryoso ang mga paratang (What is their evidence? It is the DOE’s responsibility to explain further and prove their claim. This is no joke and a very serious claim),” he said.

On Wednesday, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao called out the “incompetence” of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, his partymate in the ruling party Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), for failing to prepare for power outages.

Senators supported Pacquiao’s call for a legislative investigation into the matter.

“The Senate is ready to work with DOE and ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) in looking of permant solutions to this perennial problem,” Gatchalian said Thursday.