Tag Archives: emergency powers

[Statement] Human Rights Watch on “fake news” provision of Bayanihan law

Human Rights Watch statement on Section 6 (6) of the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” signed by President Duterte on March 24, 2020:

Section 6 (6) of the law punishes “individuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion.”

This provision of the law is overbroad and can easily be misused by Philippine authorities to crack down on online criticism of government efforts. Given the Duterte administration’s well-documented hostility towards freedom of the press and online critics, this law could be used to criminalize any online information the government dislikes. Instead of seeking to shut down online information the Duterte administration should respect the rights to freedom of expression and access to information. Rather than abusing people’s free speech rights, the Duterte administration should focus on providing the public with accurate and timely information about COVID-19.

The Philippines has international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information of all kinds. Governments are responsible for providing information necessary for protecting and promoting rights, including the right to health. Permissible restrictions on freedom of expression for reasons of public health may not put in jeopardy the right itself.

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[Statement] Emergency powers for COVID19: The same politics of plunder and patronage but dressed in surgical masks and protective equipment -BMP/SANLAKAS/PLM

(Today, March 23, we are expecting Congress to hold a special session and grant emergency powers to Duterte as requested by Malacañang.)

The supermajority in both Houses will ensure that the president will have his way, not out of deep concern for a people who face uncertainty due to the COVID19 pandemic but from a deeply-ingrained SOP (standard operating procedure) of opportunism and political patronage.

The crux of the request is for the Executive to juggle funds and cancel appropriations made by Congress in the FY 2020 budget, in an attempt to immediately channel finance into decisive steps to address COVID19, which includes the take-over of health services and facilities.

We would leave the determination of this usurpation of the legislative power of the purse to the lawmakers, or to the Supreme Court, if the request, once accorded, is taken to the judiciary for interpretation for violations to the Constitution.

For the toilers and the propertyless, the question is “ Would the granting of emergency powers, as requested, lead to expedient and effective measures to address the health crisis”? Not really.

The president does not need more power to address this issue. Much power and privilege is already concentrated in his hands as chief executive.

Even without changing the budgetary appropriations, Duterte could easily initiate the massive mobilization of logistics, finances, and personnel to diligently follow the procedures by global health experts on how to combat the COVID19 scourge. He had the power to impose a travel ban from Wuhan/Hubei from as early as January. He had the discretion to declare a health emergency as suggested by the Health Department in latter February.

He could have done all this but he did not; downplaying the virus as a little fire to be put out by his urinary excretions.

Then, in early March, he hurriedly imposed a quarantine/lockdown for NCR then and Luzon, without preparing the prerequisites for the successful implementation of his drastic presidential order (transportation and protective equipment for frontliners, income replacement and subsidies for temporarily displaced workers from the formal and informal sectors, steady flow of basic needs, etc).

Too much power yet too lacking not just in political will and decisiveness but more so in genuine concern to the safety and welfare of the Filipino people.

The regime may counter that this request for “emergency powers” represents a sudden turnaround from its past blunders (though they are too egotistical and arrogant to admit to mistakes).

However, the Marawi case is a starker revelation to the devastating effects of granting “emergency powers” to Duterte. The so-called restoration of the war-torn city did not materialize. The billions of rechanneled funds and foreign aid now untraceable. Emergency powers ultimately lead to brazen and unashamed plunder since the normal procedures of transparency, audit, and accountability are deemed inapplicable in ‘emergency situations’.

The legislators, mostly in the House supermajority, would not oppose the reallocation of the budget for the COVID crisis, through the emergency powers of the chief executive. They know too well that it would be coursed to local government units “through the intercession of their good offices to their almighty Tatay”.

This is the same politics of plunder and patronage. Though this time with Duterte in front, handing out relief goods, wearing a surgical mask to hide his blush of shame for past misdeeds and blunders.

Yet, for the sake of the people, we propose the following adjustments to two major measures in the fight against COVID19: (a) social distancing and proper hygiene: not by draconian measures that regard the masses as the problem but by encouraging mass participation and initiative to dispel the view that Filipinos are inherently undisciplined, (b) mass testing in critical areas and eventual isolation, recovery and treatment of patients (which necessitates a rejection of VIP testing for its wasteful use of scarce and much-needed test kits, testing should prioritize frontline workers due to their proximity to the deadly virus) and (c) requisition of private facilities such as hotels and hospitals to serve as quarantine or isolation centers for those who have tested positive for the COVID-19 where proper medication and care can be afforded to them.

However, we call on our kauri and kamanggagawa to stretch ourselves, go beyond narrow struggles for economic gain, and tackle the questions of politics and governance to the millions of Filipino workers, as they face the ineptitude of the ruling clique (which will literally kill us all), the weak rival elitist faction, the looming economic slowdown locally and globally, and a pandemic that highlights all the contradictions of the prevailing capitalist global order.

March 23, 2020
BMP – SANLAKAS – PLM

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[Statement] Allocation of funds is the solution, not delegation of extra powers to the President -NAGKAISA

Workers who were forced into home quarantine without subsidies, in collective agony, already have a full view and had a taste of how disruptive and repressive Presidential power works during emergencies. The people never asked for it in the first place, nor will locked-down communities today demand a more extensive quarantine measure from the President.

Quarantine subsidy, free mass testing, and treatment, as well as adequate support to our front-liners, are clearly what the working people need today. Sadly, however, as we obey social distancing policies at home, what we find sorely lacking from the President’s declaration of public health emergency and the implementation of lockdown policy is FUNDING, which under the Constitution, is the primary duty of Congress and not of the President.

Now is the time, therefore, for Congress to do its part in the COVID-19 battle. It should, as a matter of obligation, allocate more funds for the frontline workers, their safety and their supplies, and subsidies for the millions in forced home quarantine. In particular, Nagkaisa is urging the leadership of both houses of Congress to allocate funds for:

1. 10,000-peso Quarantine Subsidy to each worker in the formal and informal sector for their food and essential needs. We estimate that 225 billion pesos would be needed to provide this level of subsidy.
2. 10 billion pesos for mass testing, treatment, and adequate support to our front-liners, including their PPEs, transport needs, quarantine, and proper accommodation.
3. Prepare the 2021 budget prioritizing measures versus pandemics and establishing the Center for Disease Control and Protection in the long term.

We further believe that addressing this policy gap in the fight against COVID-19 does not require the granting of emergency powers to the President as realignments and new fund allocation properly belongs to Congress. You might as well consider doing sessions in quarantine in Batasan rather than staying at home without pay like ordinary workers.

We also urge Congress not to allow any attempt to clip the powers of the LGU’s just to ensure national compliance to standards which in principle must also consider a local application based on local conditions. We would rather prefer local innovations than presidential sanctions. As a matter of fact, most LGUs, especially those outside NCR, also need to augment their resources for the general welfare to promote health and safety under section 16 of the Local Government Code.

As to the taking over of public utilities, the Constitution already allows the President to take such extreme measures when the public interest so requires.

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
23 March 2020
Reference: Atty. Sonny Matula
Nagkaisa Chairperson

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[People] Bill asking for emergency powers for the President contains provisions patently repugnant to the Constitution -By Atty. Gilbert Andres

I have read a draft bill asking for emergency powers for the President. My initial analysis of the draft bill is that it contains provisions patently repugnant to the Constitution (I) for delegating Congress’ power of the purse to the President and (II) for delegating to the President legislative powers to declare acts as criminal.

1) Section 14(16) of the draft bill is patently unconstitutional for violating the separation of powers as it effectively delegates Congress’ power of the purse over to the Executive.

Section 14(16) of the draft bill states “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation in the FY 2020 GAA for whatever purpose the President may deem necessary and desirable to fund measures to address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including the recovery and rehabilitation therefrom. All amounts so reprogrammed, reallocated or realigned shall be deemed automatically appropriated for such COVID-19 measures.”

Section 14(16) gives full discretion to the President, not just to realign, but also reprogram and reallocate any appropriation in the FY 2020 GAA. Further, take note that Section 14(16) does not only refer to appropriations for the Executive Department but refers to”any appropriation in the FY 2020 GAA.” This is essentially Congress’ power of the purse which is being delegated to the President.

2) Section 14(16) of the draft bill also violates SECTION 25(5), ARTICLE VI of the CONSTITUTION which provides that “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; xxx”

3) SECTION 25(5), ARTICLE VI of the CONSTITUTION merely allows a law wherein the President “be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.” But Section 14(16) of the draft bill goes beyond that.

4) Section 6 of the draft bill on penalties (2 months of fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P1M, or both) is unconstitutional for being an undue delegation of legislative powers to the President.

Take note that the penalty is to be imposed for “Any violations of the rules, regulations, and directives of the National Government issued pursuant thereto,xxx”

However, such power to criminalize an act and to impose penalties to it is essentially a legislative power that only Congress can exercise (and to a certain extent LGUs through their respective councils). Legislative power can never be exercised by the President under the Constitutional principle of separation of powers.

5) Section 6 of the draft bill is also unconstitutional under the void for vagueness doctrine. What kind of act will the President’s “rules, regulations, and directives” be declared as a criminal? No one knows. And this is precisely the situation that the void for vagueness doctrine intends to prevent.

There are other patently questionable provisions in the draft bill. But these are the sections that stand out for being repugnant to the Constitution.

6) What the draft bill seeks can always be answered by Congress passing a supplemental budget to fight COVID-19. A supplemental budget to give the National Government additional funds to specifically fight COVID-19 is a better calibrated, laser-sharp response rather than an outright surrender of Congress’ power of the purse to the President.

7) Lastly, the repugnant provisions of the draft bill remind me of the famous warning of Angara vs. Electoral Commission through the illustrious pen of SC Justice Jose P. Laurel “In times of social disquietude or political excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated.”

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[People] Not supplemental nor stimulus but more powers to DU30 vs COVID-19 -Rep. Edcel Lagman

Hon. Edcel Lagman, photo source http://ph.yfittopostblog.com/

The unfolding output of the one-day special session in the House of Representatives is the grant of more emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to combat COVID-19 as he requested in the Malacañang-crafted H.B. No. 6616, even as the validity of the virtual session and electronic voting of the House of Representatives is in legal limbo as no prior amendment was properly effected under the existing Rules of the House.

Authorizing the President with extraordinary powers was in lieu of a supplemental budget or an economic stimulus package to ameliorate affected citizens and displaced workers and bail out distressed businesses, particularly micro and small enterprises.

The grant of extraordinary budgetary powers to the President to restructure or re-engineer the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) surrenders the Congress’ constitutional power of the purse to the Executive even as it allows the President to transfer funds in violation of Section 25 of Article VI of the Constitution which unequivocally prohibits the enactment of a law authorizing a transfer of funds.

Under House Bill No. 6616, the President is authorized to cause the (a) “cancellation of appropriated programs, projects or activities” to “generate (forced) savings”, and (b) “reprogram, reallocate, and realign any allocations in the FY 2020 GAA for whatever purpose the President may deem necessary and desirable to fund measures to address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency.”

Read complete story @edcellagman.ph

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[Statement] We Need Clear Plans Not Shortcut Measures -Kilusan

More than a week after Enhanced Community Quarantine has been declared in Luzon and there has been damage done to the economic life of our citizens who were commandeered to stay at home, with no clear livelihood assistance, meanwhile local government units have been put in charge of providing food /food packs for their constituents some have received food packs while other LGUs give out cooked food. Sadly, there are communities that have yet to receive any food /food packs.

In the past week, we have had cases of patients sent home because of congested hospitals and over-burdened medical front liners have yet to be provided with sufficient personal protective equipment while the national government has yet to implement mass testing or coordinated disinfection of communities to stem the outbreak of the disease.
These glaring loopholes have yet to be addressed policy-wise.
Now, Malacanang is now asking the Senate and House of Representatives (HoR) to pass a bill that will hand to President Duterte additional powers ostensibly to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.

As of this writing, Senate did not proceed with the session as it lacked a quorum. The HoR proceeded with the Special Session with twenty in attendance and has already passed House Bill 6616 in the first reading.

We look at this proposal with concern especially given the blanket nature of the powers being asked including realignment of funds, relaxing procurement measures, taking over of privately-owned public utility or business affected with the public interest.

We remember that prior to the COVID-19 Duterte allies have been hounded with corruption charges, we remember that there has been no exit report in the implementation of a two year Martial Law in Mindanao. We remember that the Marawi rehabilitation funds have yet to be satisfactorily explained and that the city remains in rubble two years after the siege.

We believe that shortcut powers can only serve the short-sighted, selfish interests of the unscrupulous. Granting the executive additional powers is a recipe that can open doors to corruption and abuse devoid of accountability especially if the plans to address the COVID-19 have not revealed to the public.

Assurances of “no” corruption cannot assure the public, only ensuring that our government has clear, scientific and public health is the only real measure that we will be effectively addressing the outbreak.

Let us not legislate ourselves into an untenable situation. Already, there is confusion and excesses in the implementation of the lockdown. This must be addressed and soon.
We need clarity and consistency in implementing the guidelines. Additional powers are unnecessary and superfluous at this point.

#QuarantineSubsidyNow
#FreeMassTestingNow
#NoToMoreEmergencyPowers
#MassTestingNowPH

https://www.facebook.com/notes/kilusan-para-sa-pambansang-demokrasya/statement-we-need-clear-plans-not-shortcut-measures/3148384121883172/

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[Press Release] Power crisis real, strategic but gov’t doing mere quick fix –NAGKAISA

Power crisis real, strategic but gov’t doing mere quick fix – labor coalition

The emerging power crisis is a cruel outcome of a bad policy under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) that cannot be resolved by the proposed emergency power President Aquino is seeking from Congress, the labor coalition Nagkaisa said in a statement.

NAGKAISA

The group said it is not common for ordinary workers to comment on techno-economic aspects of the power industry, but for this coming celebration of Bonifacio Day on November 30, labor will come out loud on this along with other big issues because the high cost of power in the country is making the lives of ordinary workers more miserable.

According to Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson for Partido Manggagawa (PM) and one of the convenors of Nagkaisa,  “this quick-fix solution via an emergency power to address a decade-old problems of escalating rates and diminishing supply reignited labor’s apprehension that once again, a power crisis is being transformed into business opportunity for the private sector.”

Fortaleza was referring to the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) and power contracting being pursued through a joint resolution in Congress that would grant the President emergency powers to address the expected power shortage in 2015.

He said the ILP can be pursued by the Department of Energy (DoE) even without the President exercising emergency powers because it is merely a demand-side management issue and not production of additional generating capacity as required under Section 71 of EPIRA.

“Likewise, the foreign and privately-operated National Grid Corporation must first be made to account for its primary responsibility to secure reliable supply, including sufficient reserve capacities,” argued Fortaleza.

The group explained that the ILP is a mode for utilizing standby power or embedded generating capacity available in several establishments such as malls and commercial buildings. During shortage, their utilization means an x amount of freed megawatt capacity that can be supplied by Meralco to other users.

Fortaleza, however, said that for this alone an emergency power is not needed.  So why is Malacanang asking for it?  The group can only think of the following scenarios:

Under the ILP enrollment is voluntary but enrollees will be compensated to incentivize their             participation

But because there is no system currently in place to exactly determine the price  of compensation,  imposing a universal levy – an x amount per kWh to be charged to consumers take-or-pay  – is             the most likely scheme.

Retail electricity suppliers (RES) who already posses contracted capacities under the open access     (but which they cannot supply to their contestable market because most of them are also ILP             players) will also be compensated.

These, in effect, will result to rate increases.   But Fortaleza insists that a take-or-pay levy cannot be charged to consumers under ILP since embedded generation sets were designed or were practically built by industry players to address expected and non-expected outages.

“So why do we have to pay them for that temporary sacrifice?  And why will Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and Jaime Ayala charge an x amount per kWh from everyone, including non-mall users?”

The group argued further that the only valid excuse for utilizing emergency powers is when the government  goes back to generation, stop industry fraud, and makes a decisive shift to renewable energy and energy democracy.

NEWS RELEASE
NAGKAISA
28 November 2014
Contact: Wilson Fortaleza
Partido Manggagawa
09053732185, 09225261138

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[People] The power problem: a Shell-driven crisis by Walden Bello

Afterthoughts
The power problem: a Shell-driven crisis
Walden Bello
Inquirer.net
November 22, 2014

When Malacañang asked Congress for emergency powers to address a power crisis that it expected in the summer months of 2015, the impression given was that the country was facing a massive demand that would outrun available supply. In its request, the administration invoked Article 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), which states that the chief executive, “upon determination of a shortage of supply of electricity, may ask Congress for authority through a joint resolution, to establish additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.”

Walden Bello word.world-citizenship.org

Not surprisingly, both the public and lawmakers felt that indeed the country would be facing a national emergency come early 2015.

Crying Wolf

However, from the hearings conducted by the House Committee on Energy on October 19 and November 18, the officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) were forced to admit that: 1) the so-called crisis was based not on projections that the demand for electricity in the period would exceed supply or available capacity but that meeting the peak demand would cut into and bring down the required reserves of electric power that must be maintained; and 2) that what would bring down reserves below the critical level would be the shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas fields for maintenance from mid-March to mid-April 2015.
Malampaya’s gas feeds into into three Luzon power generators–Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, and Ilijan–so that a shutdown from maintenance would withdraw over 1000 MW of installed capacity.

While the Department of Energy has factored unexpected power outages in its projection of power supply, the key factor behind the expected shortfall is Malampaya’s temporarily going out of commission for maintenance and upgrading by its operator, Shell Inc.

A Shell-driven artificial crisis

Thus, as the House hearings revealed, the so-called crisis was not one of demand exceeding supply but one brought about by the decision of a transnational corporation to conduct its maintenance at the time of the year when demand is greatest, thus creating an artificial deficit not in available generating capacity, as the public was led to believe, but in required regulating reserves. Moreover, the deficit in required reserves would disappear if Shell were to move its maintenance to later in the year, when peak demand would be lower and more capacity would come onstream with new power plants becoming operational.

In response to questions from members of the Committee, DOE personnel said that, in fact, the scheduled maintenance could take place later in the year, as in November or December. Shell, however, wanted to undertake maintenance in March and April, when the seas are reportedly calmer.

This did not strike some members of the Committee as a good excuse, since the last time Shell did maintenance on Malampaya was during the latter part of the year, from November to December 2013. Moreover, for an oil company that is used to doing maintenance and expansion work in the most adverse conditions in the Arctic and the North Sea, having rough seas does not count as an excuse. Pressed, DOE personnel admitted that the executive could in fact tell Shell to conduct its upgrading and maintenance later in the year, and that Shell, in fact, admitted this.

So why could the DOE not press Shell to do its maintenance work on Malampaya at a more suitable time for the country that would eliminate the need for giving the president emergency powers to fill a projected reserves deficit? The question did not receive a satisfactory answer, though DOE Secretary Jericho Petilla did make a contorted effort to explain. Shell’s presence at the hearings could have given lawmakers a chance to come to the root of the problem, but for some reason the request made by the legislators for the DOE to have Shell present at the Nov 18 hearing was not acted upon. They then voted without having heard a word from what one congressman characterized as the invisible but most critical actor in the whole affair.

A triumvirate of foreign players

Shell is not the only transnational giant whose behavior has had a negative bearing on our energy security. Indonesian-owned Meralco will be at the center of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) that will provide the substitute generating capacity withdrawn from the grid during should the House grant the president emergency powers. Under ILP, enterprises that have their own generating sets will voluntarily withdraw from the grid so as to allow other consumers access to power that would otherwise go to them. Since it distributes some 70 per cent of electricity in Luzon, it is unavoidable that Meralco, one of the most abusive monopolies in the country, will be a key player and thus be one of the recipients of the massive government subsidy for private sector participants that the proposed law would authorize to put the ILP system in place.

To Shell and Meralco as foreign players with a negative impact on our power system, one must add the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), which operates the National Transmission Corporation that monopolizes the transmission of electric power throughout the archipelago. NGCP is a private entity that is controlled by a Chinese state firm, the State Grid Corporation of China. During the hearings, conflict between the DOE and the NGCP broke out in the open when the DOE complained about the lack of accurate data on power capacity from NGCP.

The secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier complained about the very slow transfer of technology from Chinese operators to Filipino technicians in the system operator. Most important is the question: with our country having serious territorial dispute with the People’s Republic of China in the West Philippine Sea, is it acceptable from the perspective of national security that our transmission grid is in the hands of a Chinese state corporation that responds primarily to the interests of the Chinese state?

This possibility might presently be remote, but one cannot discount a scenario wherein on orders from Beijing, NGCP could literally bring the country to its knees owing to its monopoly over power transmission.

The real challenge

The debate over the granting of emergency powers to the president has not only exposed the unhealthy impact of foreign entities on our energy security; it has also revealed the vastly diminished role of the government in managing the national energy system.

Planning has fallen by the wayside, with the government now reliant on individual corporate players’ plans, based on profitability, to introduce new generating capacity to meet rising national demand. Secretary Petilla admitted as much when he said the ability to meet rising demand was dependent on private players’ promises on when their new units would go online. Indeed, the government’s ability to forecast demand is now largely dependent on data provided by private sector players.

What we are experiencing is the fiasco brought about by the indiscriminate grant to the private sector of most of the power to manage and operate the country’s energy system by Epira. Epira is a domestic monument to the illusions of privatization that were shredded by the global economic crisis that began in 2008.

Instead of more efficiency, lower prices, and more competition, Epira has delivered higher prices, oligopoly, and a less efficient system.

Replacing or fundamentally amending the dysfunctional Epira is what Congress should be doing, not addressing an artificial crisis created by a foreign transnational. Unfortunately, the likely result of what is now the inevitable granting of emergency powers to the president will be to delay even more addressing the central challenge to meeting our energy security. I am willing to bet that despite much populist rhetoric from members of Congress, the 16th Congress will not tackle Epira reform.

*Walden Bello represents Akbayan in the House of Representatives, where he is a member of the Committee on Energy.

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/80348/the-power-problem-a-shell-driven-crisis#ixzz3JniFxAiM
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[Statement] No to emergency powers; NGCP to provide reserves -NASECORE

No to emergency powers; NGCP to provide reserves

The grant of emergency powers to the President ostensibly to address an unverified looming power crisis is baseless and unnecessary.

House Committee on Energy Chairman and Or. Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali announced last week the filing of Joint Resolution No. 21 giving President Benigno S. Aquino III emergency powers “to provide for the establishment of additional power generating capacity as mandated by RA 9136 to effectively address the projected shortage of the supply of electricity in the Luzon grid from 12 March to July 2015”.

Sec. 71 of RA 9136, Electric Power Crisis Provision, provides: “Upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.”

The factual bases of an imminent supply shortage have not been established. On the contrary, Rep. Umali is quoted in published reports that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) cannot arrive at a common supply outlook for 2015.

At the October 20, 2014 public hearing of the HOR Committee on Energy, Irma Exconde, DOE Director for Power Planning, assured the House that there would be available capacity for the critical summer months of 2015. She submitted the following projections/outlook for Luzon in 2015: March – available capacity, 9,059MW to 9,296MW, with peak demand at 8,110MW to 8,480MW; April – available, 8,888MW to 10,178MW, with peak at 8,290MW to 9.013MW; May – available, 10,199MW to 10,497MW, with peak at 8,860MW to 9,017MW; and, June – available, 10,086MW to 10,176MW, with peak at 8,820MW to 9,000MW.

If at all, she told the committee at that time, the “shortfall” will be in the net reserve – the gross reserve minus the regulating reserve – but this would only be in the range of 21MW to 31MW, and only in the 1st and 2nd weeks of April, respectively.

It thus comes as a huge surprise to Nasecore that after having come to the conclusion on October 20 that the feared looming crisis was just a case of thinning reserves, the House Committee does a volte face or turns about-face and gives President Aquino emergency powers under Sec. 71 of the Power Reform Law or EPIRA.

This is supposed to be a watered-down resolution after the option to lease and/or purchase modular gensets was taken out of the Malacanan version but the power to contract additional generating capacity still remains. The President’s choices, however, are apparently limited to the current players who may be the only ones with the capacity to fill the supply gaps, if any.
Is this, perhaps, a solution that simply opened windows when it closed doors? Only an outright withdrawal or denial of the joint resolution will dispel such doubts.

Unless the DOE has withdrawn the Exconde estimates, there is no real reason or valid justification for the grant of emergency powers.

If Director Exconde’s projections have been changed, what are the bases for the new estimates and projections?

The proposed joint resolution states that the emergency powers will expire in July next year.

Does this also mean that contracts for additional generating capacity under emergency powers must expire in July 2015?

Moreover, the joint resolution does not set any cap or limit to the additional generating capacity to be contracted. Such an open-end grant of vast powers cannot but stir fears and anxiety over a possible repeat of the over-contracting at onerous terms, under emergency powers, in a previous regime.

When the policy arm (DOE) and the system operator (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) cannot agree on the projected shortfall, consumers have to be extra wary of the extent and levels of additional generating capacities the President will contract.

The DOE and NGCP are the lead agencies for determining and setting supply levels of electricity, the former as the agency to “integrate the individual or joint development plans of the transmission, generation and distribution sectors of the electric power industry” under Sec. 37 of RA 9136 and the latter as system operator under a legislative franchise as national transmission company.

Meanwhile, cited in recent news reports is a House Energy Committee “working figure” of 1,040MW described as ‘negative reserves’, a concrete estimate reportedly arrived at by the Committee after DOE and NGCP could not agree on a common shortfall estimate. This will consist of 440MW contingency or spinning reserves and 600MW back-up or dispatchable reserves.

This is way over the 21MW to 31MW reserve deficiency reported by Dir. Exconde to the Committee. How did the Committee arrive at a deficit 20- to 30-times higher than originally projected? Nasecore seeks answers, in concrete and verifiable terms.

Moreover, if the grant of emergency powers is to answer for the reserves, the joint resolution is misdirected, misplaced and inappropriate.

Reserves are part of ancillary services, which are “support services necessary to sustain the transmission capacity and energy that are essential in maintaining the power quality, reliability and security of the grid.” This was a function of state-owned National Power Corp. but after privatization under RA 9136, this was taken over by a privatized NGCP and it is now a principal part of NGCP’s undertakings as system operator.

The NGCP website says it “assumes NPC’s authority and responsibility for planning, construction and centralized operations and maintenance of the high voltage transmission facilities, including grid interconnections and ancillary services.”

Under ancillary services, the Frequency Regulating Reserve is equivalent to 4% of the total system load, which would be around 360MW using the highest projected peak load (9,017MW) in May; Spinning Reserve should be equivalent to the biggest plant, or about 647MW, more or less the size of the Sual coal-fired plant; and Dispatchable Reserve, another 647MW that can be synchronized in 15 minutes.

NGCP should provide for these reserves, and it has been charging us fees for this service. Where did our payments for ancillary services go, if as the House Committee claims the reserve deficiency is or has been 1,040MW? (The deficiency, if at all, should only be the incremental increase on current reserve levels resulting from incremental demand growth.)

An initial check with the Energy Regulatory Commission website showed that NGCP had entered into Ancillary Services Procurement Agreements (ASPA) with the following generation companies: Trans-Asia Oil & Energy Dev. Corp.; First Gen Hydro Power Corp.; SN Aboitiz Power – Benguet, Inc. (SNAP-BI); Trans-Asia Power Generation Corp.; SN Aboitiz Power – Magat (SNAP-M); SPC Island Power Corp. (SIPC); San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC); Philippines & Green Core Geothermal, Inc.
ERC must furnish Nasecore copies of these ASPA’s. We want to know what we have been charged so far. Nasecore is asking for a full accounting of the capacities contracted by NGCP for ancillary services, the fees collected for them, and their actual use or dispatch. If NGCP cannot make a full and thorough account of these amounts, the ERC must order the immediate and full refund of such collections.

Nasecore is also asking the HOR Energy Committee and the Committee on Franchises to look into NGCP’s compliance with its undertakings in its legislative franchise. If there are short comings – like the failure to provide for and procure ancillary services – Congress must recall the franchise and Government must cancel the agreement allowing NGCP to operate the national transmission system.

Personally, I (Pete Ilagan) find it disturbing that the Chairman of the House Energy Committee had to go to NGCP to see “NGCP officials to try to get them to agree with the DOE on their projections”. To begin with, if NGCP was doing its job, Rep. Umali would not have had to go to NGCP to plead his Committee’s case.

When we re-nationalize the Transco and take it from the non-Filipino hands that presently run it, our congress will surely have a better grip on the grid.

Nasecore, as a final point, will remind DOE and the House Committee that DOE has ample powers in Sec. 37 of EPIRA, the DOE mandate, for the Department to lead power planning from up front instead of behind, and to issue and enforce energy conservation measures. Even the ILP or interruptible load program is within the scope of Sec. 37, if DOE would only assert and exercise it.

RA 9136 is quoted verbatim, and you be the judge if DOE still needs Sec. 71 to address our electric power needs:

Sec. 37, Powers and Functions of the DOE. a. Formulate policies for the planning and implementation of a comprehensive program for the efficient supply and economical use of energy… b.) develop and update annually Philippine Energy Plan… c.) prepare and update annually Power Development Program…d.) ensure the reliability, quality and security of supply of electric power… e.i) encourage private sector investments in the electricity sector… e.iii) in consultation with other government agencies, promote a system of incentives to encourage industry participants, including new generating companies and end-users to provide adequate and reliable electric supply…e.i) develop policies and procedures and, as appropriate, promote a system of energy development incentives to enable and encourage electric power industry participants to provide adequate capacity to meet demand, including, among others, reserve requirements…e.l) formulate and implement programs, including a system of providing incentives and penalties, for the judicious and efficient use of energy-consuming sectors of the economy… e.p) formulate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement the objectives of this Act… e.q) exercise such other powers as may be necessary or incidental to attain the objectives of this Act.

Ref. PETE ILAGAN, 09178461299
Email: ptilagan@nasecore.com

NASECORE PRESS STATEMENT
November 18, 2014

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[Press Release] Groups kick-off Resistance Movement vs. Aquino’s Emergency Powers and Extended Rule -SANLAKAS

Groups kick-off Resistance Movement vs. Aquino’s Emergency Powers and Extended Rule

BUKLURAN ng Manggagawang Pilipino and SANLAKAS kicked off their call to arms protest campaign, dubbed ARM the People! (All Resist Movement), against President Aquino’s emergency powers, and Charter Change (Cha-cha) for term extension and economic plunder, with a motorcade and noise barrage around Manila and Quezon City today.

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The groups said that the ARM the People campaign will commence on September 21, with dozens of picket-protests and noise barrage in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, these would intensify into weekly localized mass actions such as assemblies at factory gates and urban poor communities, streamer hanging, distribution of leaflets, etc. in the coming weeks.

President Aquino has asked Congress to pass a Joint Resolution allowing him to use emergency powers in order to address a purported looming power crisis in 2015. This has only fanned reactions over debates in Congress of ChaCha for term extension, and Pnoy’s willingness to run for another term. Despite disclaimers coming from allies and spokespersons, the concern and alarm persist. Congressman Erice announced his intent to file a motion for ChaCha for political reforms next week.

Atty Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas Secretary General, said “Why should emergency powers be given to a President who uses is Executive Powers to appropriate the power of the purse of Congress to enlarge his presidential pork, and then openly threatens to clip the powers of the Supreme Court that calls this act unconstitutional?”

The groups also oppose ChaCha for economic reforms.intended to grant 100% foreign ownership in the country. Gie Relova of BMP said, “ChaCha will only legitimize the systematic exploitation of our natural and human resources through more liberalization, privatization and deregulation. It will be like pushing ordinary wage-earners to the brink of economic bankruptcy and we and our families shall not take this sitting down”.

The groups also announced that they shall be launching simultaneous protest actions on the anniversary of Martial Law, September 21 in seven sites in Metro Manila alone. Coordinated actions are also being organized in Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, as well as the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Tacloban, Davao and Ozamiz

18 September 2014
Contact Person:
Atty Aaron Pedrosa 0932-3643137
Sanlakas

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[Press Release] Workers blame government for new power emergency -PM

Workers blame government for new power emergency

For doing nothing during the last four years, a second power crisis is materializing under the watch of the second Aquino, the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement.

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“Had the government acted in advance, one of which was going back into generation as recommended by the 19th EPIRA Status Report of 2011, the President would not have been begging for emergency powers from Congress which the same body that enacted the failed Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2001,” said PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza.

Fortaleza said that as early as 2010, red flags on the supply side have already been raised by experts and by the government itself. Even the labor sector under the coalition Nagkaisa! had been calling on the government since 2012 to decisively address the twin problems of high cost and diminishing power supply.

“Yet the government opted to stay in the sidelines, waiting for the promised megawatts from private players to come online. But to no avail,” lamented Fortaleza

“Now PNoy has placed himself in a situation where his mother once failed: Presiding over a power crisis in a panicky and very costly manner,” explained Fortaleza.

The group said that since there is no more time to build an additional 600-700MW capacity to fill in the annual deficit beginning next year, the government is left with no option but to revert back to provisional and very costly mode of power contracting, similar to the notorious IPP contracts done by the Aquino and Ramos regimes.

“These instant, palliative solutions will bring us, poor consumers, more pain,” said Fortaleza.

But before Congress expressly grant PNoy emergency powers, the group said it is but judicious to declare first that EPIRA and privatization failed.

Second, the group said an audit of all the plants’ capacities as per contracts must be done first to determine the actual numbers since there are reports that power plants are not running on their full capacities or are not properly maintained.

Third, Malacanang must also show the real cost of the planned contract that it will enter into, for how long, to whom, and the actual terms it is willing to commit.

Fourth, with or without emergency, the government should strongly push for a shift to renewable energy.

And lastly, emergency powers must not be granted to the Executive if it has no clear, effective and doable plan to strategically address this oppressive, decade-old energy crisis.

PRESS RELEASE
Partido Manggagawa
16 September 2014
Contact: Wilson Fortaleza
Spokesperson

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