DAVAO CITY – Stressing that the voice of those who actually shoulder the burden of the power crisis was not heard during last month’s Mindanao Power Summit attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III and other stakeholders, electric-power consumers in Mindanao are holding their own gathering this Friday.

Dubbed “Mindanao Consumer Summit: Minadanaoans’ Response to the Power Crisis,” the event will be held on May 11 at the Finster Auditorium of Ateneo de Davao University. It is being spearheaded by the Mindanao chapters of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), with support from PALAG-Mindanao, People’s Action against Corruption and Tropical Institute of Climate Studies.

Manjette Lopez, acting FDC president, said that the Consumer Summit aims to bring together leaders of various consumer groups and people’s organizations from all the regions in Mindanao and discuss their respective take on the issue of power supply shortfall and on the pending privatization of the Agus-Pulangi hydro-complexes. The event also aims to consolidate proposed alternatives and solutions to the power crisis. The Summit also intends to come up with a consumers’ manifesto and an action plan to protect and promote the interest of the people of Mindanao.

“Mindanao consumers view, with caution, recent pronouncements of President Aquino and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) regarding the option to set up a government-owned Mindanao Power Corporation to address the power crisis,” said Lopez, adding that Mindanao consumers have expressed their intent on engaging the MinDA which the President has tasked to come up with proposals to resolve the power crisis.

Aside from Mindanao consumers, also expected to present their respective analyses and perspectives are power industry and renewable energy experts such as University of the Philippines Prof. Rowaldo del Mundo, FDC board member Maitet Diokno, renewable energy expert Grace Yeneza and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities executive director Red Constantino.

Salvador Feranil, FDC Southern Mindanao chair and PALAG Mindanao co-convenor, said that Mindanaoans were disappointed with what President Aquino stated during the April 13 Summit.

“President Aquino dampened our spirits with what he said during last month’s summit,” said Feranil.

At the summit, which was attended by energy agencies, electric cooperatives, local government officials, business groups and other stakeholders, President Aquino’s message to Mindanao was unequivocal: “…[Y]ou will have to pay more… There are only two choices: pay a little more for energy, or live with the rotating brownouts.”

“For us, this is unacceptable. Selling Agus-Pulangi and paying more for electricity generated by privatized power barges are not in our list of options. There will always be other and better options,” Feranil said.

On April 24, MinDA chief Luwalhati Antonino announced that the President Aquino “has changed his mind” about the planned privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric power plants after realizing that doing so would be against the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

“This is good news,” said Feranil. “However, what we want is a categorical statement from the President himself that he is against it.” -30-

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