No need for emergency powers to solve brownouts —Gatchalian

Published June 6, 2021, 2:45 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday thumbed down proposals for an emergency power for government to address an energy crisis being experienced in Luzon this summer, saying this could only become a source of corruption.

“Ako hindi ko susuportahan ang emergency powers. Dahil ang emergency powers ibig sabihin nito walang bidding sa bibili ng mga planta (I won’t support an emergency powers. Because with an emergency power, there no bidding for those who will buy power plants),” Gatchalian said in an interview over Radio DZBB.

“Magiging ano yan, source ng corruption at maraming duda ang papasok diyan sa taumbayan. So hindi ko pa nakikita na nasa ganyang punto tayo (That would be a potential source of corruption, and the people will have doubts once there is one. So I don’t see us veering towards that direction),” he said.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, said there are other means to resolve the current blackouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator also said he is vouching on the forecasts that the country would experience less red or yellow alerts in the next seven days because the weather is changing and the country is entering the rainy season.

“Maraming pang pwedeng magawa para mapigilinan itong mga brownouts na ito na hindi naman kakailanganin ng emergency powers (We can still do many other things to stop these brownouts without having to resort to emergency powers),” he stressed.

“So hindi ko nakikita na kailangan natin ng (I don’t think we need) emergency powers),” Gatchalian added.

During the House Committee on Energy hearing last Thursday, the Department of Energy (DOE) had earlier sought the help of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to investigate the alleged collusion among power generation companies to shut down their power plants to jack up electricity prices.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told lawmakers that the rotational brownouts in some parts of Luzon and Metro Manila was caused by the shutdown of four power plants that collectively generate around 2,000 MegaWatt (MW) of electricity.

But the DOE, Cusi said, is doing its best to ensure the sufficient supply of electricity.

On Wednesday, June 9, Gatchalian said his panel will also conduct a public hearing on the rotational brownouts that hit Luzon.

“Ang layunin natin, ang focus natin ngayon ay ang solusyon para hindi na mangyari itong brownout sa ating bansa (Our aim, our focus is to seek solutions so this won’t happen again),” he said.

“Tuwing summer na lang naghi-hearing tayo para maiwasan ang brownout pero hindi dapat ganito eh. Dapat meron tayong long-term solutions at meron tayong mga solusyon na iniimplement para hindi natin maranasan ang mga bagay na ito (Every summer we always hold a hearing asking how we can prevent these brownouts from happening, but this shouldn’t always be. We need to have long-term solutions and solutions to implement so we won’t experience this again),” the lawmaker stressed.