Angry power consumers in Cotabato barricade vs Lopez-owned geothermal plants

May. 09, 2013
In May last year, power consumers in Cotabato province hold a big protest as they slammed the daily rotational brownouts despite the existence and operations of the Mt. Apo geothermal plants.  (davaotoday.com file photo by Alex D. Lopez)

In May last year, power consumers in Cotabato province hold a big protest as they slammed the daily rotational brownouts despite the existence and operations of the Mt. Apo geothermal plants. (davaotoday.com file photo by Alex D. Lopez)

“This is a manifestation of the peoples’ anger over the recurring six to eight hours daily rotational brown-outs,” Ruby Padilla-Sison, secretary general for Makabayan-North Cotabato

By DANILDA L. FUSILERO
Davao Today

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato, Philippines — About 1,000 electric power consumers here blocked the road towards the Mt. Apo geothermal plants owned by the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), a Lopez-owned generation facility early Thursday.

Led by the militant Koalisyong Makabayan, the barricaders who came from the towns of Magpet, Arakan Valley, Makilala, Tulunan, Kabacan and Pres. Roxas, stationed along the intersection of national highway-Sudapin road as early as 4 AM and protested until noon today.

“This is a manifestation of the peoples’ anger over the recurring six to eight hours daily rotational brown-outs,” Ruby Padilla-Sison, secretary general for Makabayan-North Cotabato, told davaotoday.com.

Kidapawenos, she noted, “are not morons to be fooled by promises of abundant and cheap power supply from their very own Mt. Apo.”

Makabayan pressed for the immediate release of the 25 percent load dispatch from the Mt. Apo Geothermal Plants which has an installed capacity of 104 Mega-watts.

Under the Department of Energy (DOE) Act of 1992, the local government unit (LGU) that hosts a power-generating facility has a preferential right of at least 25-percent emergency load dispatch.  A Memorandum of Agreement entered into by the host-LGU with the then Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) in the early ‘90s, also provided a similar condition.
“If it’s true that we are in crisis, why then is the EDC depriving us of such right?  Is this the prize of privatization, allowing EDC to withhold our claim and rechannel our demands to the defunct PNOC?,” Sison said.

Bai Norma Capuyan, third nominee of the Katribu Partylist, echoed Sison’s statement, even recalling that they were those protested the desecration of Apo Sandawa in the ‘90s.

“They (government) used to tell us that the Mt. Apo geothermal project was of national interest, that it would benefit us.  But now the government wants us to suffer the brunt of their inefficiency in managing the power industry,” she told davaotoday.com.

The daily rotational brownout started early this year after the National Power Corporation (NPC)/Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) arbitrarily cut the power supply of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) by 30 percent.  In March, the situation worsened as the 13 MW supply from NPC/Psalm was augmented with only 5 MW from the Therma Marine, Inc (TMI).  Cotelco needs 28 MW of power supply to answer the province’s peak demand.

Cotelco Manager Godofredo Homez projected that from this month to June “the situation will worsen,” as the expected allocation from the NPC/Psalm is only of 8 MW while that of the TMI contract is only 5 MW.  For months now, Cotelco is augmenting its power supply by “remarketing” the grid.

“Dili na maasahan ang remarketing karon kay online or operational napud ang ubang probinsya nga naigo sa bagyong Pablo.  Kani tung power supply nga wala nagamit sa probinsya sa Davao ug ComVal kay nag-undergo pa sila og rehabilitation,” Homez said.

Earlier, sectoral groups like the Kidapawan City-Local Council of Women and non-government Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement petitioned the DOE for the immediate release of the city’s preferential 25 percent emergency load dispatch.  Recently, Kidapawan-Power, a broad alliance of power consumers from the business sector, professionals, youth, civil society groups, religious sectors and cause-oriented organizations convened and expressed their plans to stage a series of protest actions after the May 13 elections.  (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)

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  • “The power crisis in Mindanao is artificial and orchestrated.” This is according to Rep. Luzviminda “Luz” Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party in Mindanao.

    Ilagan said: “People are being conditioned that there will be brownouts in Mindanao come election day. The credibility of Mindanao elections and the power needs of Mindanaoans are being held hostage by power multinationals and their bid to fast track the completion of the power industry’s privatization.”

    “The Department of Energy has been giving warnings of a power crisis in Mindanao for several years now yet no concrete action has been taken toward giving Mindanaoans cheaper, safer power and harnessing sustainable and renewable power resources.

    No action has been made to take back and nationalize power resources, or even review our energy policy. Instead, private corporations and multinationals are pushing for environmentally destructive power sources like coal plants and the construction of mega-dams,” said Ilagan.

    The Gabriela lawmaker explains various power corporations like Aboitiz Power Corp. have been pushing for the full-scale operation and construction of coal fired power plants in Mindanao.

    “Unfortunately, the Aquino government instead continues to support the construction of coal plants despite its destructive effects on people’s health and the environment,” she added.

    The government has since granted tax holidays to companies investing on coal plants, such as Japanese corporation Team Energy in Pagbilao, Quezon, Petron in Limay, Bataan, and Therma South Inc. of Aboitiz in Davao City.

    The legislator believes that an overhaul of the current administration’s energy policy is necessary and called anew for the repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

    The Epira gave private corporations practical control over the power industry and in no way did it fulfill its promise of giving Filipinos, especially Mindanaoans cheaper and more affordable electricity. The act paved the way for profit-driven energy production in the country. Unless the Epira is repealed and the power industry is nationalized, Filipinos will remain at the mercy of private power multinationals.

  • hopeful01

    assassinate the ones who abuse their power ,trust, after a few of them are dead, many changes will occur for the improvement of the people

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