There will be enough electricity in Mindanao on election day despite reported dwindling supply in some provinces, according to President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Citing information from the Department of Energy, the President said Mindanao's hydroelectric power plants have sufficient water stocks to produce power and ensure the midterm elections will proceed as scheduled in the south.
"Alam naman ninyo ‘yung kuryente sa Mindanao, karamihan hydro. So nakaimbak ‘yung tubig to ensure precisely na may adequate na electricity especially for election day," the President said in press conference during a visit in Naga City.
“Inaayos natin ‘yung problemang minana natin. Humihingi tayo ng pag-unawa. Pero ‘yung kung sa eleksyon ang pinag-uusapan, gumawa na ng paraan para siguraduhin na walang failure dahil mawawalan ng kuryente," he added.
The President, meantime, is lukewarm to proposals to use emergency powers to resolve the power shortage in Mindanao.
Aquino instead pushed for a number of relief measures, including purchase of a new diesel-power plant and power rationing, to augment supply in the south especially during the May elections.
He said Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla is scheduled on Friday to submit his presentation on these “immediate solutions” to improve the power situation in Mindanao.
"Baka dapat i-define pa natin kung ano bang emergency powers ang gustong gawin. Pero I think, one of the items is we can declare that the state of emergency happens there," he said when asked if there is a need to use emergency powers to address the Mindanao power situation.
For now, the President pointed out that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) law has already stated “specific” provisions on how to deal with any power problems in the country.
To help boost power supply in Mindanao, Aquino said the government is considering the purchase of a diesel-power plant since this is the fastest one to build. Aquino however said he would need a joint resolution from Congress authorizing him to establish additional generating capacity. “Under EPIRA, hindi na kasi puwedeng bumili ng generating capacity ulit ang gobyerno," he added.
If the government can’t buy a diesel plant, he said the government can still rent “from those who have the generating capacity” to ease the brownouts in Mindanao. Other power plants built by the private sector are also expected to go online by 2014 and 2015 to meet the energy requirements of the south.
Another stopgap measure to ease the power problem in Mindanao is power rationing among some provinces. But the President warned that the government will impose stiffer fines against provinces that exceed their designated electricity limits.
He said a problem ensued when some provinces consumed electricity beyond what was agreed upon, leaving no supply left to Zamboanga City, the last area in the power grid.
“Nakakawawa ‘yung Zamboanga City in particular na ubos na lahat bago umabot sa kanila so sila ang pinakakawawa. So towards that end, magkakaroon ng mga penalties and fines on those who overdrew beyond their stated limits,” he said.