DOE seeks legislated policy classifying energy projects of ‘national significance’

by Myrna Velasco – January 17, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

To firmly address concerns such as impeded access to transmission facilities, the Department of Energy (DOE) has indicated that it will be pushing for a legislated policy that shall declare “energy projects to be of national significance.”

In an interview with reporters, DOE director Jess Tamang stressed that a law is the ultimate recourse they could turn to so it could serve as lasting solution to these kinds of dilemmas for energy projects.

It was noted that an Executive Order can also be a “bridge policy,” but the danger lies in the fact that such can just be whimsically revoked by any other administration.

The proposed legislative measure, Tamang said, will not only address right-of-way (ROW) issues afflicting energy facilities, but it will similarly demarcate “land use’” so operating energy projects cannot just be eased out in their respective sites on the caprices of local government officials.

“Our thinking is that – those already identified as potential sources or have been identified as potential site for energy projects… the local government units (LGUs) will need to isolate that area which is classified for energy,” he expounded.

The DOE official added that “unfortuntately, we don’t have that kind of requirement in the law – as special classification for energy.”

Had that been inscribed in existing relevant laws, Tamang said the operation of the oil depots in Pandacan could not have been variably booted out from that site.

Tamang indicated that the measure will be a priority agenda of the energy department at the opening of the next Congress.

He said the propounded law will primarily revolve around the premise that energy projects shall be declared to be of national significance because they are important backbone to a country’s economy and whimsical transfer or them being held hostage in ROW disputes could have overarching implications.

“There is a need for energy to form part of the land use classification. For now, land use classification includes industry – it’s in the industrial classification that the energy sector has been aiming its fight for,” Tamang explained further.