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FVR on power woes: Don’t look at me

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Fidel Ramos hit back yesterday at critics who are blaming him for the power shortage and the high cost of electricity, saying the current situation was brought about by policies and laws implemented after he stepped down in 1998.

Ramos also sought to debunk the widely held view that high electricity rates in the country was caused by the supply contracts entered into by the government with private power corporations when he exercised emergency powers to address the widespread blackouts.

“So we did not do that (increase generating capacity) purposely or intentionally to acquire so much megawatts just to enrich some people. It could not be legally done at that time,” Ramos told STAR editors in an interview at the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation office in Makati City.

He said the government had to privatize the power sector using a tested formula from the World Bank, where the demand for power was projected by multiplying by two the current population growth rate to get the desired Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP was then doubled to get the growth of the power sector.

“Why? Because the fastest demand for power is from the households because of the additional appliances, televisions, as the economy improves. That was our planning,” Ramos said.

He said Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was enacted in mid-2001 and his administration was regulating the energy sector using an industry regulatory code enforced by the Department of Energy.

“We made it very clear in EPIC (electric power industry code), there should be no cross-ownership among the three components: the power producers and generators, the distributors and in between them, the transmission (companies),” Ramos said.

“But the EPIRA, the bloated version that eventually was enacted, has hidden cross-ownership,” he said.

He said he was also proposing at that time that the government must remain the majority owner of the transmission sector of the power industry.

The Ramos administration, however, was not able to enact a power industry law due to lack of time.

“But now, in transmission, the Chinese own our transmission (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines). Pardon me for saying this, but they’re holding us by the balls. The EPIRA has created a new oligopoly of the powerful and wealthy families,” he said.

Ramos said the Energy Regulatory Commission and other regulatory agencies are also not doing their jobs to protect consumers.

Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday that President Aquino should exert moral suasion to encourage private firms and industries to make available their surplus power to the public under the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) to avert a power shortage expected this summer.

The House of Representatives is currently deliberating on the emergency powers requested by Aquino to allow the government to increase its generating capacity.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ELECTRIC POWER INDUSTRY REFORM ACT ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION FORMER PRESIDENT FIDEL RAMOS GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES INTERRUPTIBLE LOAD PROGRAM MAKATI CITY POWER RAMOS
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