by Myrna Velasco – October 15, 2016
from Manila Bulletin
Following the confirmation of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi by the Commission on Appointments (CA), the Department of Energy (DOE) is expected to finally start pursuing serious and realistic policy works for the energy sector.
The Department of Energy (DOE) apprised media about Cusi’s confirmation via the sponsorship of Senator Franklin Drilon that also gained the support of several other senators.
But Cusi’s biggest challenge is elevating the status of his inferior-perceived energy leadership team, who are mostly coming from non-energy backgrounds.
Fundamentally, that is a sweeping assumption that they have to prove otherwise, and may only happen so if they stop displaying incompetence in media and the public. At this point, it is understandable that policy and planning compass still swing in unclear directions, but if that continues, it will be a disaster for the entire energy sector.
Major output expected from the energy department would be a meaningful and detailed Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) with the integration of a forward policy on energy mix.That is not to be muddled with the diagram of a nine-point agenda that spells the DOE’s vision or the Power Supply-Demand Outlook of five years that the department is trying to dangle as energy plan, but apparently wrong.
The podium is often used as the venue to present energy policies, strategies and programs – and the Duterte administration is no exception to that. But one of Cusi’s officials had epic fail in conveying that after exhibiting to industry audience how lacking in knowledge and understanding she is even on the elementary facts relating to energy planning and policy formulations.
The DOE thus left a room of industry stakeholders perplexed as to how such nescient league could eventually advance into pursuing viable, dependable and insightful policy crafting and energy planning.
Beyond his deemed obsession with nuclear, Cusi at least tries to manifest sincerity in his desire to help solve the energy sector’s problems, primarily the Filipino consumers’ woes over high power rates.
The more knowledgeable pack in his team already advanced proposals on the removal of value-added tax (VAT) in system loss charges; and the portended application of the Malampaya fund to retire power debts so the universal charges in the bills, could already be eradicated – how that is done with the aid of legislation is still badly in need of the details.
For his initial days in office, Cusi also engaged power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to accelerate electrification of marginalized areas, including the domain of slum dwellers in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
Adding to his credit has been the DOE’s move on the Malampaya arbitration case, wherein it officially declared position about honoring sanctity of contracts as a way to calm the ‘currently disturbed state of investments’ in the upstream oil and gas sector.