Malacañang has assured that the emergency powers sought by President Aquino from Congress to avert the looming brownouts in Luzon in 2015 would not revive the “onerous” take-or-pay provision imposed on consumers, forcing them to pay even for electricity they did not use to solve the energy crisis during the Fidel V. Ramos administration.
At a news briefing, Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda was asked how Mr. Aquino would allay public fears that the emergency powers he is asking from Congress would not be abused and would not result in higher electric bills.
“The situation right now, according to Senate President Frank Drilon, is that the details have yet to be provided by Energy Secretary Jericho L. Petilla,” Lacierda said, noting that Mr. Aquino only requested for emergency powers. “But the details will have to be filled up by Secretary Petilla. In fact, Senator Drilon was also asking about the parameters of the requested emergency powers.”
Lacierda added that the matter will have to be discussed by the Department of Energy with both the House and the Senate. “So, for these details, let’s wait until Secretary Petilla explains to both Houses the parameters of these emergency powers.”
He pointed out that the government was also considering “a slew of options available,” including the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).
“So, ano ba talaga ang tinitingnan dito? Ang kailangan lang kasi naman kaya siya humihingi ng authority under Section 71 of Epira [Electronic Power Industrial Reform Act] ay dahil we’re looking at a possibility that there will be a shortage…. Sometime in 2015—March or April, or somewhere—thereabouts…or April or May—depende. So ’yun lang ang kailangan natin. That’s why the President has informed the public ahead of time. We’re asking for authority from both Houses.”
Asked about the take-or-pay provision imposed on electricity consumers during the Ramos administration, Lacierda admitted this was also a concern of the Aquino administration.
“Concern natin ’yan. Of course, we will make sure that pag-aaralan po ng Senado rin ’yan [the provision], at saka ng House, at saka ni Secretary Petilla… Kung ano po ang gagamiting measures ay dapat ’yun po ay—ang babayaran ay kung ano lang ang gagamitin. Kasi ’yung tinatawag niyo dati ’yung ‘take or pay’ e. That was really—medyo onerous sa atin ’yun, so pag-aaralan po lahat ito,” the Palace official said.
He, however, added: “As to the details, I am not familiar. Let’s wait for Secretary Petilla to explore and explain to both Houses.”