21 October 2005
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) strongly condemns the continued protection afforded by the Arroyo administration to notorious independent power producers (IPPs) with contracts already determined to be onerous. In the light of the government's self-professed impotence in controlling escalating power costs and curbing the deficit, the FDC notes that a substantial portion of the National Power Corporation's (Napocor) debt is owed to these IPPs.
Unfortunately, the Arroyo administration continues to allow these IPPs to drain Napocor's finances through onerous take or pay arrangements inserted into one-sided contracts by the signatories of these agreements.
Until now, these signatories have not been made accountable for the contracts they signed and for which the public is made to pay even when electricity is not delivered or produced.
Electricity consumers are suffering as a result of these onerous contracts. Almost twenty percent (20%) of an ordinary household's budget goes to payment of electricity alone. This is reason enough for the authorities to present these signatories before the bar of justice and have them account for their virtual betrayal of the public trust.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition likewise calls upon Sen. Miriam-Defensor Santiago, Chairperson of the Committee on Energy, to make good on her promise to go after the companies and the signatories to the five most onerous contracts signed during the Ramos administration.
Noting that of the five most onerous contracts, three of these are directly related to former President Ramos, FDC prays that the support of the former president for Arroyo's continued stay in Malacanang has not become a major consideration in her protecting these IPPs.
FDC challenges the administration senator to set aside political partisanship and alliances in favor of the greater public interest. Specifically, FDC urges that the signatories of three of the most onerous contracts be called to answer for them.
This includes Edgardo Bautista, the signatory of the Hopewell contract with Napocor for the controversial 1,200 mw coal plant in Sual, Pangasinan, the political bailiwick of Fidel Ramos under whose watch the contract was forged. Mr. Edgardo Bautista is now the CEO of Mirant Corporation, the main proponent of the controversial toxic 100 mw coal plant being fought off by NGO's in Panay and a heavy contributor to Arroyo's social projects.
The list of contract proponents also includes Catalino Tan, a reported political contributor to the Ramos and Arroyo campaigns. Tan is the president of Binga Hydroelectric Power, the contractor accused by Napocor of having abandoned the hydroelectric project.
The third IPP proponent that FDC would like held accountable is retired Brig. General Donald O'Shei, a former West Pointer and acquaintance of Ramos. O'Shei brokered the controversial Casecnan project, one of the five most onerous.
FDC calls for the aggressive investigation and possible prosecution of these contracts and the signatories and proponents behind them. They should be held accountable and answerable, and finally be brought before the bar of justice, if not by the Arroyo government-because of its unhealthy alliance with Mr. Ramos-then by the government that will succeed her.