'We will find a way': Marcos says on energy concerns

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
'We will find a way': Marcos says on energy concerns
Handout photo shows President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaking at a media conference in his Mandaluyong City headquarters in June 2022.
Marcos media bureau / screenshot

MANILA, Philippines — After being sworn into office on June 30, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. acknowledged that there is a power supply dilemma hounding the country, and indicated that he may leave it to oil-rich nations to provide for the country's energy requirements, or the Philippine government "will find a way."

This comes weeks after the grid operator placed Luzon under a series of yellow alerts— which point to low reserves in the system— after several coal-run plants went on forced outages. 

"There is a parallel problem in our energy supply. Sufficient fossil fuel-free technology for whole economies has yet to be invented and it is not seriously tried by rich countries," Marcos Jr. said on Thursday right after speaking about agricultural issues. 

"Again, consider the response of the richest countries to the war in Ukraine, but surely, a free world awash with oil can assure supplies or we will find a way," he added. In his inaugural speech, he did not give details on how he plans to do it.

The U.S in March this year announced the largest release of one million barrels of crude in a bid to temper the high gas prices caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine. 

Marcos Jr., who won by a landslide in this year's national polls, pointed out that the Philippines is "not far" from oil and gas reserves which have already been developed. The Philippines' sole natural gas provider, the Malampaya gas field, is set to be depleted by early 2022 or latest by 2027. 

Since the beginning of the year, local oil companies continuously hiked the prices of gas, diesel and kerosene due to global developments in the world market, which the Philippines is heavily reliant on. Supply in the market was partly worsened by the geopolitical war waged by large oil producer Russia against Ukraine. 

Pump prices rose for the fourth consecutive time this week, as people had to shell out 50 centavos more for a liter of gas; an extra P1.65 per liter of diesel and an additional 10 centavos for a liter of kerosene, oil price advisories showed. 

READ: P100 per liter of gas? DOE says that's unlikely

The fuel price spikes have hurt consumers, motorists and members of the transportation sector, among others, who also had to deal with the impacts of quickening inflation and the rise in the prices of goods.

Meanwhile, electricity prices in the Philippines are said to be the highest in Southeast Asia, which stand at roughly $0.20 or P10 per kilowatt-hour, according to consumer welfare group Kuryente.org.

Plans to pursue nuclear

Coal historically makes up a significant chunk of the country's power supply mix. In 2020, coal-run plants contributed to 57% of the country's power generation output, while gas plants made up 19.2%, according to the latest Philippine Energy Plan.

Months before former President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down from office, he signed executive order (EO) 164 which mandates the country to work towards including nuclear energy in its power mix and developing a national program for it. 

The EO also ordered the state's nuclear energy program inter-agency committee to conduct more studies on the possible use of the mothballed $2.2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which was completed during former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s regime, but was mothballed a year later. 

READ: It's too late for Duterte's nuclear energy push as term nears end

Marcos Jr. pointed out in March that there is a need to look at nuclear power, saying that there should be at least one operating plant to slash high electricity prices, according to an Agence France Presse report.

Environment groups raised concerns on the switching on of a nuclear facility in the Philippines, citing environmental and waste disposal issues, among others. 

Wind mills in Ilocos

Marcos is also said to be a fan of solar, geothermal and wind energy, all forms of renewable energy.

Although he did not explictly mention it in his speech, Marcos Jr. referred to the turbine blades of wind mills in Ilocos Norte, which he believes can be one of the ways to mitigate pollution. 

"There are tried and proven new ways of mitigation. Blades have been turning over the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte. Harnessing a power all around, but unseen long before this day. I built them," Marcos Jr. said. 

These windmills were claimed by suspended lawyer and senatorial bet Larry Gadon to have been spearheaded by Marcos Jr. 

This is false, as no wind farm or power plant in Ilocos Norte is operated or run by the Marcos family, based on data from the Energy department's 2020 list of power plants based in Luzon. 







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