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October 7, 2014

SUN STAR: Palace assures transparency in using Emergency Powers

MALACAÑANG assured Monday transparency on whatever authority that Congress would grant to President Benigno Aquino III to address the looming power shortage next year.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the assurance amid concerns by some lawmakers on the Department of Energy's plan to spend some P6-billion to lease generator sets to generate about 600-megawatt (MW) power supply during the summer months of 2015 when power shortage was projected to hit Luzon.

"All parties concerned will ensure transparency since the JCPC (Joint Congressional Power Commission) will have oversight functions," he said in a text message.

Lacierda also said that the first order of the House was to explore and discuss all possible options in addressing the possible power shortage in 2015.

Some lawmakers were reportedly having some apprehensions in granting the President the emergency powers to address the power shortage as this could be abused.

A lawmaker said the authority being sought by Aquino from Congress is open to "political corruption."

House Senior Deputy Minority Floor Leader Arnel Ty said, "The plan (of the DOE) is vulnerable to corruption, particularly in the selection of the foreign supplier of some P6-billion worth of gensets."

"Hundreds of millions of pesos, possibly billions worth of fuel supply contracts will also be up for grabs," said Ty who represents Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association (LPGMA) party-list in the House of Representatives.

Also, Ty doubts the need for emergency powers to contract the extra generating capacity, as he noted the availability of vast supply reserves through the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

"The standby generators owned by large private enterprises and registered with the Energy Regulatory Commission are capable of producing an aggregate of 1,800 to 2,000 MW of electricity, which is more than sufficient to cover the expected 600-MW supply deficit," Ty said.

He noted that "even without emergency powers, government is in a position to harness and deploy these privately held standby generators via the ILP, while providing fair compensation to their owners."

Aquino has asked Congress to grant him authority to address the imminent power shortage from March to April next year. 

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