Hataman seeks EPIRA law review over power outages in island provinces
House Deputy Minority Leader Mujiv Hataman of Basilan on Wednesday urged his colleagues to review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 to address recurring power outages in isolated small island grids.
Hataman, under his House Resolution 708, made the call in reference to the operations of the National Power Corporation Small Power Utility Group (NPC-SPUG) which recently announced that it will reduce electricity service in its covered areas starting February 1.
Hataman said the NPC-SPUG attributed the planned reduction to a shortage in fuel supply and a delay in the subsidy payment of Universal Cost for Missionary Electrification (UCME).
“Matagal na itong problema ng mga island-provinces tulad ng aming lalawigan sa Basilan, lagi na lang nagtitiis ang aming mamamayan sa napaka-unreliable na power service ng NAPOCOR [National Power Corporation]. Naniniwala ako na dapat na itong i-review para masolusyunan,” Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said in a statement.
(This has been a lingering problem of island provinces like Basilan which has been enduring such unreliable service from Napocor.)
“Hindi naman tama na tanggapin na lang namin ang aming kalagayan. Baka dapat tingnan na natin ang batas at pag-usapan ang mga solusyon sa problema ng NAPOCOR para hindi na paulit-ulit ang ganitong mga pangyayari,” he added.
(We can’t just resign ourselves to the situation. We need to look at the law and discuss solutions so this does not keep happening.)
In addition, Hataman said the problem persists not only in Basilan but in other island-provinces such as Sulu, Jolo and Palawan, one of the country’s top tourist destinations.
“Lagi na lang ganito ang problema ng NAPOCOR sa mga SPUG areas nila: mataas ang presyo ng diesel, delayed ang payment sa subsidy ng UCME, may shortage sa fuel. Hanggang ngayon ba hindi pa sila natuto sa paulit-ulit na problemang ganito? Wala silang ready na solusyon tuwing mangyayari ito?” Hataman asked.
(This has always been the problem involving Napocor in these areas: high diesel prices, delayed payment of subsidy, fuel shortage. Have they still not learned from this reoccurring problem? They still don't have a ready solution for when this happens?)
“Ni-raise na natin ito noong nakaraang budget hearing. Year in, year out, we hear the same problems. Hindi nagagawan ng paraan, walang permanenteng solusyon. Meanwhile, ang mga mamamayan ang napeperhuwisyo tuwing may kakulangan ang NAPOCOR,” he said.
(We have raised this during the budget hearing and they have not fixed it...They have not found a permanent solution. Meanwhile, it is the people who suffer.)
Hataman said last year’s power crisis involved long hours of power outages with a threat of a total power blackout in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao unless the NPC settled its obligations amounting to P1.2 billion to Petron.
The total blackout, Hataman said, was averted when the Department of Energy, the Department of Finance and the Department of Budget Management intervened.
“Pag nawawalan ng kuryente, apektado ang serbisyo ng pamahalaan, nababalahaw ang daloy ng negosyo at tumitigil ang mundo ng mga tao. Ganito kahalaga ang elektrisidad lalo na sa papaunlad na lalawigan tulad ng Basilan,” Hataman said.
(If we lose power supply, it affects government services, it disrupts businesses and the world stops. This is how important electricity is in the development of rural provinces like Basilan.)
“Kaya sana ay masolusyunan na itong problema ng NAPOCOR. And we don't need band-aid solutions, we need lasting, sustainable steps to plug the holes in the law.”
(That is why I really hope Napocor finds a solution to this problem.) — BM, GMA Integrated News