23 November 2006
Advocacy group Freedom from Debt Coalition called on the government today especially the Department of Energy whose Secretary heads the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) Board to disclose to the public the result of investigation conducted by the PEMC Market Surveillance Committee on the price manipulation at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
FDC expressed disappointment over PEMC’s reluctance to disclose information and report to the public as to what really transpired at the WESM trading including the report on which power plants participated in the bidding.
“We find it unacceptable that after the irregularity was committed which will have a possible negative impact either to the electricity consumers or taxpayers, the public will only be told that there was price manipulation. The public deserves to know the whole account, who committed this wrongdoing, and that he or she must be held accountable,” said FDC Secretary General Milo Tanchuling.
“To manipulate, collude, or fix price is wrong. We want to know who authorize this price fixing at WESM. Until this person is pinpointed, we treat the investigation as incomplete,” added Tanchuling.
FDC believed that the operation of WESM was evidently rushed and that the price manipulation is one manifestation of the failure to meet some of the requirements before commencing the operation of WESM, such as the privatization of NPC generation assets and IPP contracts.
Tanchuling said that this appalling experience at WESM should make our government officials rethink the operation of WESM if not stop it.
The investigation by PEMC, which began in mid-October, was triggered by the sudden and sharp increase in trading prices at WESM in September. After more than a month of investigation, the PEMC got the report from its Market Surveillance Committee.
Meanwhile, the Joint Congressional Power Commission called for a meeting today where Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla disclosed that the result of investigation by the Market Surveillance Committee has revealed that there was price manipulation by PSALM.
When asked what is the impact of this to the electricity consumers, Secretary Lotilla told the body that the increase in prices traded at WESM during the period when the price manipulation happened will not be passed on to the consumers.
However, he was unable to respond to questions by Senators Ralph Recto and Juan Ponce Enrile as to how much is the resulting loss from this and who bears the loss. Later, when pressed for answer, Secretary Lotilla said that the resulting loss will be borne by the National Power Corporation.
Sen. Joker Arroyo lamented the fact that Secretary Lotilla, being the head of the PEMC Board, did not come prepared for the JCPC meeting to give update/report on the investigation on price manipulation at WESM.