Bizmen seek amendment to Epira

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Friday, February 7, 2014


MINDANAO traders have sought for the amendment of Section 71 of Republic Act (R.A.) 9136, also known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001.

The amendment was proposed during the Department of Energy's sectoral focus group discussion with the business sector on the Epira Law at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao on Thursday.

Section 71 of the Epira law, which delves on electric power crisis provision, states: "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."

Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Roderico R. Bioco said the provision is very vague.

"During emergency situation, the president should be allowed to engage in additional contracts [for additional generating capacity]. The president should not wait be waiting for the congress to approve because it is an emergency," he said.

Bioco said it will take a while for the establishment of additional generating capacity if the president will need the authorization from Congress. He said an additional generating capacity would take three to five or more years before it can go online.

Efren T. Cortez, secretary of the committee on energy of the House of Representatives, said there is a need for an authorization from Congress "for check and balance purposes."

"This may be subject to abuse if the president is given full authority on this. That is why the Congress decided to put a joint resolution," he said.

But Cerael C. Donggay of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said any delay in the delivery of electricity will adversely affect the economy.

"That is why we cannot afford to come up with the practice of having approvals, deliberations, debates in Congress just to come up with a policy on how to solve the problem," he said.

Donggay said if the president is given the power to solve the problem on crisis, the electricity can be procured through other sources of power maybe through DOE or Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) to patch up the deficiency in power.

Bioco also said the president should be given the power because the timeframe to make decisions is very short.

"During a power crisis, if the authorization of additional capacity needs to undergo a debate in congress and there is no session, what will be of us?" Bioco said.

He said if Sec. 71 is amended, as a result, the Sec.47 (j) will also be suspended so that the National Power Corporation (NPC), independent power producers (IPP), Psalm, or DOE can engage in temporary short term contracts so that some deficiencies can be patched up.

Sec.47 (j) only allows the NPC to generate power from "undisposed generating assets and IPP contracts of Psalm Corp."

Bioco suggests to add "except for emergency situations" at the end of Sec.47 (j), as an alternative to suspending it, so that it will address Sec. 71 of the code.

The focus group discussion is the Mindanao leg of the three legs of consultative dialogues of the DOE on the amendment of RA 9136.

Thursday's dialogues were held simultaneously with the Visayas leg at Cebu. The Luzon leg in Manila was held last month.

The recommended amendments and revisions of the Epira law will be brought to the national level during the consultative dialogue on February 18, 2014 at SMX Convention Center, SM Aura, Taguig City. Other amendments and revisions from other sectors will also be discussed at a national level.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 07, 2014.

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