25 April 2012
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) welcomes the announcement
of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), through its Chair Luwalhati Antonino (PDI, 25 April 2012, p. 20), that President Benigno S. Aquino III has abandoned the option of privatizing the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants. This is a recognition of the popular and broad opposition to the Agus and Pulangi privatization plan as manifested in the recently held Mindanao Power Summit.
The MinDA announcement will help shift the direction of policy solutions to the power supply problem in Mindanao as well as on the national scale towards a state and public model of developing power generation in the country as FDC has long advocated and struggled for.
FDC, however, takes exception to the MinDA alternative proposal to set up a Mindanao Power Corporation to manage the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants on the following grounds:
First, while the proposed Mindanao Power Corporation is a state entity, the alternative must be modeled in such a manner that public accountability, control and transparent governance are established. This is to avoid the irregularities and mismanagement that characterized the National Power Corporation.
Second, the equity participation of the consumers, the electric cooperatives in the area and the indigenous communities must built into the proposed alternative.
Third, the management and development of the alternative model must be geared towards making electricity accessible and affordable (with provisions for subsidy included) to the farming, working class and indigenous communities and households who are still either without electricity or who cannot or who find it difficult to afford it in Mindanao.
And fourth, that a public body be formed to craft the final shape of the alternative body and that such body should include representatives and experts enlisted by consumers, electric cooperatives, the academe, and the indigenous communities apart from the business sector, the LGUs and National Government agencies.RICARDO B. REYES
Freedom from Debt Coalition