A SPECIAL session in the House tackling the current power crisis in Mindanao was no longer necessary, said Bukidnon Representative Teofisto Guingona III.
The special session was requested by Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez over the weekend for the purpose of granting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo authority to declare a state of emergency in Mindanao due to power shortage.
But Guingona on Tuesday described Rodriguez’s call as “overreaction.”
A member of the Committee on Energy’s Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC)-Oversight Committee, Guingona acknowledged the power shortage in Mindanao but sees no reason for a declaration of a state of emergency.
“That’s overacting. Granting special powers to Arroyo is not anymore necessary as it is already stipulated in the energy law on what measures to take in the event of a power crisis,” the Bukidnon lawmaker said.
He added: “The debate over a power crisis and emergency powers is unproductive because the term ‘crisis’ is misleading when referring to the power system. We should instead determine whether we have a power shortage. A shortage can be verified whereas we can only (speculate) about a crisis.”
He said the government can determine whether the shortage is actual or imminent, or seasonal such as no water in dams or there is structural lack of power plants.
“We can even measure it. Thereafter, we can take appropriate steps to address it. This is a useful way to appreciate the problem, with a view of solving it,” Guingona said.
He cited Chapter VIII, Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (RA 9136) which 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.”
Guingona explained that granting the President emergency powers would mean that the National Government would take over existing power producing companies in the country.
“What use will the take-over be when all of the existing power companies have been producing to its capacity?” he said.
Guingona said what is important is to maintain the 23 percent reserve capacity of the Mindanao grid.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, said his call for a special session was not “overacting” because “Mindanao is really facing a power crisis particularly, in the western part where people are now experiencing rotating brownouts.”
“I was in Zamboanga a few days ago and I saw the real situation there,” he said in a radio interview Tuesday. “We really have to act now.” Dovetailing his worries on the power shortage, the lawmaker said, is the “real possibility of a failure of elections.”
The Commission on Elections has repeatedly assured the May polls will push through even with possible power interruptions during the elections, noting that their poll machines have backup power.
It said it also has backup generators in almost every town in case of massive brownouts. (With Annabel L. Ricalde)