22 June 2011
– Stakeholders in the power sector will be holding a summit to collectively assess and find solutions to problems besetting the 10-year implementation of Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the "Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001" (EPIRA).
Dubbed “National Power Summit: EPIRA +10,” the convention aims to gather stakeholders – consumer groups, rural electric cooperatives, partylist organizations, academe, media, faith-based groups, business, government and NGOs. The summit also aims to develop a sustainable framework for rural electric cooperatives and to develop and build consensus on recommendations and proposals that will promote the welfare and interest of the Filipino consumers.
An initiative of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), the summit will be held on June 25-26 in Quezon City.
In the morning of June 25, prior to the summit, a public forum sponsored by the University of the Philippines – National Engineering Center (UP-NEC) will be held at the auditorium of the Philippine Social Science Center (PSSC) along Commonwealth Avenue. The forum, dubbed “Dissecting the Anatomy of EPIRA,” aims to assess the policy, regulation and market of the restructured Philippine electric power industry.
On June 26, the summit proper will be held at the Malcolm Theater, College of Law, University of the Philippines – Diliman.
Ricardo B. Reyes, FDC president said that it is important to evaluate EPIRA itself because “it failed to achieve its two categorical promises to the Filipino consumers – accessible and reliable power supply to all and affordable electricity rates.”
“Today, the Philippines suffers from having the highest residential and industrial power rates in Asia, even higher than Japan,” lamented Reyes, adding: “There is no doubt that EPIRA has made life harsher and harder for poor Filipinos, especially for our women. More expensive electricity makes access to electricity an impossible dream for 14 million Filipino families who do not have electricity in their homes (based on official data for 2006).”
“In contrast to our electricity-starved citizenry and economy, five super-rich families have become much, much richer, having cornered the fruits of EPIRA privatization which in practice has dropped all pretensions of opening up the electric power industry to as many competitive players as possible,” he added.
On 8 June 2001, EPIRA was approved and signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and took effect on 26 June 2001.
The 10th anniversary of EPIRA signals the removal of lifeline or discounted rates, as well as the commencement of the privatization of the Angat hydro-electric power plant in Norzagaray and the Agus-Pulangi hydro-complexes in Mindanao.
According to Reyes, the summit is important for rural electric cooperatives (RECs) which are being pushed by some government officials to be privatized or corporatized.
“We need to find a sustainable solution to this threat to our RECs. Privatization or private-public partnership (PPP) is definitely not an option as what we have experienced with EPIRA,” stressed Reyes.
“The Filipino people need and deserve an electric power industry where private participation can have a place but where the State and the public/social sector play the key role in securing public welfare and guaranteeing a national development that is based on equitable growth, sustainability and gender equality,” said Reyes.
Co-sponsoring the event with FDC are: 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy Partylist (1-CARE), Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO), 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), Greenpeace – Philippines and Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party. (30)