Solon fears Mindanao blackout will be used to “project a phantom power crisis”

Feb. 27, 2014

By Davao Today

DAVAO CITY – A partylist lawmaker said they “fear” that the island-wide Mindanao blackout early morning today “will once again be used by the Aquino government to once again project a phantom power crisis and push or fast tract the privatization of the remaining government power assets like the Agus-Pulangi power complex.”

In an emailed statement to the media, Bayan Muna partylist representative Karlos Ysagani Zarate said that the blackout “showed how precarious still is our power situation more than a decade after the government’s power assets were privatized and handed down and sold, some for a song, to a few players.”

He said that on “top of high power prices,” many parts of Mindanao “even continue to suffer intermittent brown-outs that sometimes lasted for hours.”

Zarate said that this “only show how the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) also miserably failed us all these years. “

Zarate also scored the Aquino government whom he said “still wants to further our sufferings by implementing the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM).”

He describes the IMEM as “the same corporate scheme that is one of the main cause(s) of the high power prices in Luzon and the Visayas” and that is “the same greedy mechanism used by power players to game the electricity industry, to the utter detriment of the hapless consumers.”

In a consultation made by the Department of Energy with Mindanao business chambers held in Davao City last month, Roderico Bioco of the Bukidnon Chamber of Commerce said they are still “confused” of what the IMEM “really is.”

Bioco also said that they “do not want a Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in Mindanao” which he said made the price of electricity in Luzon to P67 per kilowatt hour. Bioco said there is “mechanism to temper the greed of traders” in WESM.

WESM as defined in the Epira law intends to “provide the mechanism for identifying and setting the price of actualvariations from the quantities transacted under contracts between sellers and purchasers of electricity.”

“It is high time now to put an end to this failed experiment and we return the power sector, this very basic public service, back to the effective control of the state,” said Zarate.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said that Mindanao experienced the loss of power February 27, 2014 at 3:54 AM and it is still “determining the cause” of the power loss. (

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