A MISAMIS Oriental lawmaker declared Thursday that granting emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino III to address the power crisis in Mindanao “is an unnecessary reaction that can better be addressed by Congress seriously reviewing the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and amending the value added tax (VAT) rates imposed on power generation and distribution aside from giving the government the option to construct new power plants.”

Representative Juliette Uy (2nd district, Misamis Oriental) in a statement said: “The EPIRA or Republic Act 9136 was supposed to bring down electricity prices and resolve any power crisis in the country. Obviously the Mindanao power problem and high electricity rates show that the law needs to be reviewed and amended to allow government to build new plants.”

“Also the laws on VAT should be reviewed so that we can arrive at a new law that will reduce the rate of VAT imposed on power generation and distribution to help reduce electricity rates. Volunteering emergency powers to the President is not a solution that will benefit electricity consumers,” she added.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone filed House Bill 3743 to allow the President to enter into a negotiated contract with the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) for the construction of new government-owned power plants – which would serve as standby and ancillary generation – in the event of a looming power crisis and to suspend the imposition of value added tax (VAT).

“This bill is to address the EPIRA law’s prohibition on government and Transco to construct generation plants and in response to Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) warning of rotating brownouts if their exorbitant P4.15-per-killowatt-hour (kWh) rate hike is not implemented,” Uy said.

“We shall instead look into the results of the Department of Energy (DOE) series of consultations with various sectors to get their inputs for possible amendments to Republic Act 9136 and we shall also file a bill to address the VAT on electricity,” Uy added.

“We shall look at this with the viewpoints of electricity consumers, power investors and business groups. Congress will definitely come up with stable, long-term solution to the problems assailing the power industry in the country,” she said.