Marcos’s unmatched legacy: Energy

column-Cecilio T. Arillo-DATABASEPart 1

INFRASTRUCTURE development is the fuel that keeps a country cruising at a rapid pace in the race toward growth and economic stability in today’s emerging global environment.

Dr. Jeffrey Delmon, senior infrastructure specialist of The World Bank, affirms this by stating that: “Poor infrastructure impedes a nation’s economic growth and international competitiveness.”

Infrastructure, thus, becomes imperative as it plays a direct and crucial role in people’s everyday lives. The development of high quality roads and transport systems, bridges, hospitals and schools is vital both for economic growth and improving the quality of life of citizens. If built and maintained properly, these infrastructures will benefit both present and future generations.

In this area of public service, President Ferdinand Marcos made a legacy so remarkable and enduring that it has been the life work of his foes to obliterate it in the chronicles of our history.

Yet, no matter how hard they attempted to stigmatize him, the significant things he had accomplished cannot change the fact that because of what he did in his time remains today in the global map, a feat that has never been equaled by the five presidents who succeeded him.

Marcos’s accomplishments in infrastructure and development, missing in history books deliberately prescribed for our students and unheard of by many Filipinos, are discussed below.

Energy

The energy sector plays a key role in the country’s economic activities. When energy prices go up, the costs of food, transportation and other basic necessities follow suit. To prevent skyrocketing oil and power rates that would eventually result in high prices of commodities brought about by the 1973 global oil crisis, the government sought to decrease dependence on imported oil by harnessing indigenous sources of energy. As a result, the Marcos regime completed 20 power plants:

  • Agus 2 Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1979;
  • Agus 4 Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1985;
  • Agus 5 Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1985;
  • Agus 6 Hydro Electric Power plant, recommissioned in 1977;
  • Agus 7 Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1982;
  • Angat Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1967;
  • Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, completed in 1983;
  • Calaca Coal Power Plant, completed in 1984;
  • Cebu Thermal Power Plant, completed in 1981;
  • Kalayaan Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed 1982;
  • Leyte Geothermal Power Plant, completed 1977;
  • Magat A Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1984;
  • Magat B Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1984;
  • Main Magat Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1983;
  • Makiling-Banahaw Geothermal Power Plant, completed in 1979;
  • Masiway Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1980;
  • Palinpinon 1 Southern Negros Geothermal production Field completed in 1983;
  • Pantabangan Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1977;
  • Tiwi Geothermal Power Plant, completed in 1980; and
  • Pulangi Hydro Electric Power Plant, completed in 1985.

A study by Gilberto Llanto (2002), Infrastructure Development: Experience and Policy Options for the Future, reveals that during the Marcos Administration, electrification reached 1,270 municipalities/cities, 19,680 barangays and around 2.7 million households in 1986, which represented 45.6 percent of total households.

Almost three decades after Marcos was ousted from power, not only did his successors fail to build a single power plant; but more devastatingly, the nation also saw the aggressive privatization of the energy industry. Foreign players and the local private sectors started to participate in energy projects through privatization and the build-operate-transfer scheme.

As a result, a few oligarchic families amassed billions of profit, while the consumers bore the brunt of shouldering costly power rates. The Philippines has even earned its place as one of the countries with the most expensive power rates in Asia.

It can be recalled that for 13 years, a specific period covered by Marcos’s total energy plan for the country made successful by the right combination of regulated and deregulated policies saw the steady, low-cost supply of oil and cheap electricity to consumers.

In that period, the Marcos government, based on indisputable government records, had succeeded in reducing the country’s dependence on Middle East oil from 92 percent in 1973 to 71 percent in 1980 and further to 57 percent in 1984. By 1985, the Philippines stood as the world’s second-largest user of geothermal power, next to California, resulting further to 44-percent reduction of the country’s dependence on imported oil worth billions of pesos.

On June 19, 1986, four months after the Edsa Revolution, President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino’s administration deliberately abolished the Ministry of Energy and placed the multibillion-peso Philippine National Oil Corp., a successful Philippine firm featured successively in Fortune’s 500 Best Corp., under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President.

As a consequence, the long-term total energy plan for the country went down the drain after the Aquino regime corrupted, dissipated and privatized its money-making corporations and subsidiaries, including the National Power Corp. and the highly profitable Petron that served as a buffer against foreign oil production and distribution monopoly. Petron controlled 40 percent of the fuel distribution network in the country.

To be continued

 

To reach the writer, e-mail [email protected]

 

 

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BusinessMirror columnist Cecilio T. Arillo, a veteran author-journalist, was educated at the International Academy of Management and Economics (IAME) with a Ph.D. in Management; the Pacific Western University in LA with BSc in Mass Communications and Master’s Degree in Science, Major in Economics; the Harvard Law School-MIT-Tufts University (consortium) on Negotiation, Mediation and Conflict Management; and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on effective Decision Making and Organizational Change for Senior Executives. He taught undergraduate and MBA interdisciplinary studies at IAME and was president of the Philcoman Council of Management and Research Institute. Arillo is a member of the American Economic Association, the American Sociological Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Philconsa and lifetime member of National Press Club.

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