02 August 2007
With Ms. Gloria Arroyo’s record of ‘grave abuse of power,’ she doesn’t deserve to be given special powers.
This was according to the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) a day after Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita hinted that they may ask Congress to grant the president emergency powers should the long drought in the country triggers a crisis.
“We suspect that the power and water shortage scenario is a ploy to further push the privatization of local water districts in the country and to justify increase in electricity rates in order to make the privatization of the power industry more attractive to investors,” said FDC secretary general Milo Tanchuling.
“In the first place, is there really a water crisis now that affects the entire country?” asked Tanchuling as he recounted the water and power crises that happened during the early and mid 1990s were used by then Pres. Fidel Ramos to obtain special powers.
“During the Ramos administration, the Electric Power Crisis Act and the Water Crisis Act were passed in 1993 and 1995, respectively. These Acts led to the privatization of our electric and water services. Yet, after six years of the implementation of restructuring and privatization of the power industry and ten years of the privatization of delivery of water in Metro Manila, we're now again being led to believe that there exists the crisis situation that were used to justify or push for enactment of laws that privatized these public utilities,” explained Tachuling.
It is recalled that when Ramos obtained emergency powers from the Congress and signed into law both the Electric Power Crisis Act and the Water Crisis Act, the government opened its gates to private entities claiming stake on the public utilities. The law permitted him to enter into contracts with private companies in addressing the country’s water and generation supply problems, and gave him authority to privatize part or all segments of both utilities’ operations and facilities to deal with the looming water and energy crises.
The power shortage is even questionable, according to FDC vice president Wilson Fortaleza. “How can Luzon experience a true power shortage when there is generation capacity more than enough to meet the peak demand here? The dependable capacity is about 10,000 MW while the peak demand is only about 6,100 MW. Luzon only relies 17.3 percent or 1,812 MW of its dependable power capacity from hydropower plants. If it is the supply of fuel that is lacking, then a serious investigation has to be immediately undertaken to verify this,” he said.
“We believe that the alleged crisis scenario is being exaggerated by the government to further push the failed privatization of these two essential public utilities,” said Tanchuling.