power-thumbMANILA, Philippines – The push for the comprehensive review of Republic Act No. 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), has snowballed among stakeholders as the law reached its 10 years of implementation last June 26.

In the event , dubbed “National Power Summit: EPIRA plus 10” held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City over the weekend, around 200 participants from rural electric cooperatives, non-government organizations, consumer groups, academe, House of Representatives, and environmental organizations collectively assessed and sought solutions to problems besetting the power industry.

The summit was convened by the Freedom from Debt Coalition, an economic policy advocacy organization that has long called for people-centered reforms in essential services, such as energy/power provision.  

Those who co-sponsored the event with FDC were: Greenpeace, Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO), 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Partylist (1-CARE), Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), Foundation for Sustainable Society Inc. (FSSI), NGO Forum on ADB, Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), Partido Kalikasan (PKI), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party.

“Participants to the summit agreed that EPIRA is a failure,” said FDC secretary-general Milo Tanchuling, adding: “It failed to fulfill its promises to the consumers and the economy. Instead of making our lives better, EPIRA makes our lives harsher and harder.”

According to FDC, EPIRA failed to achieve its two categorical promises to the Filipino consumers – clean, accessible and reliable power supply to all and affordable electricity rates.

“Hence, it’s high time we reviewed EPIRA through a democratic, transparent process that involves meaningful participation of experts, consumers especially from vulnerable sectors and other stakeholders,” he stressed.

One of these is stopping the impending privatization of the Angat hydro-electric power plant in Norzagaray, the Unified Geothermal Power Plant in Leyte and the Agus-Pulangi hydro-power complexes in Mindanao, which are among the last assets left to Napocor after privatization commenced with EPIRA’s passage in 2001.

“Aside from being sources of cheap and renewable energy, these power plants are national treasures that should remain public,” stressed Tanchuling.

The movement calling for EPIRA reforms is expanding, not only in Luzon but also in Visayas and Mindanao, according to FDC.

In Visayas, a broad coalition – the Visayas Network against Privatization of the Power Industry (VNAPPI) – was formed to stop the sale of the Leyte grid. In addition, the Power Alternative Agenda in Mindanao or PALAG Mindanao was formed to stop the sale of Agus-Pulangi hydro-complexes.

FDC said that they are still in the process of putting the finishing touches to the summit recommendations. The group said they will seek an audience with President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Joint Congressional Power Conference once the proposals are finalized.

Aside from AMRECO, rural electric cooperatives that attended the summit were: Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ASELCO), Bantayan Island Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BANELCO), Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BENECO), Bukidnon Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BUSECO), Cebu Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CEBECO), Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CENECO), Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DANECO), Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DASURECO), Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DORECO).

Dinagat Island Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DIELCO), Don Orestes  Romualdez Electric Cooperative, Inc. (DORELCO), Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ESAMLCO), First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FIBECO), Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ISECO), Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (LANECO), Leyte II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (LEYECO II), Leyte V Electric Cooperative, Inc. (LEYECO V), Misamis Occidental I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MOELCI I), Misamis Occidental II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MOELCI II).

Misamis Oriental I Electric Service Cooperative, Inc. (MORESCO I), Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (OMELCO), Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ORMECO), Peninsula Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PENELCO), Samar II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO), Sarangani Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. (SEMPCO), Siargao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SIARELCO), South Cotabato I Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (SOCOTECO I), South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SOCOTECO II), Southern Leyte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SOLECO).

Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SUKELCO), Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SURNECO), Surigao del Sur II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SURSECO II), V-M-C Rural Electric Service Cooperative, Inc. (VRESCO), Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZAMCELCO), Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZAMECO),  Zamboanga del Sur I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZAMSURECO I), Zamboange del Sur II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZAMSURECO II). (30)

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