Senate urged to OK PNoy’s emergency powers

by Charissa Luci, January 1, 2015
from Manila Bulletin

House leaders are urging the Senate to approve the joint resolution that would grant President Aquino five-month emergency powers to deal with the projected power shortfall during summer months.

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who heads the 75-man panel on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle against Corruption (CIBAC) party list made the appeal after President Aquino renewed his call on Congress to pass the joint resolution that would authorize him to establish additional generating capacity to address the thin power reserves in the Luzon grid from March to July this year.

“I am urging the Senate to grant PNoy’s request. I also hope that the President would continue reminding the Upper Chamber, especially his allies to prioritize its passage. We already have done our part before we adjourned last December,” Belmonte said in an interview.

On December 10,2014, the 290-man House of Representatives, voting 149-18 approved Joint Resolution 21 that would grant President Aquino the authority to establish additional generating capacity to deal with a maximum 1,004-megawatt (MW) shortage.

Under the resolution, the additional generating capacity shall come from the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), fast-tracking of committed projects and power plants for interconnection and rehabilitation.

Power shortage scenarios

In a separate interview, Rodriguez cited the need for the Senate to immediately act on Aquino’s long standing request, warning that the impending power shortage might “negatively affect” the economy.

“I also urge the Senate to pass the resolution so that the President, having contingency plans in place through the resolution would be able to address the impending power shortage,” he said.

Last year, Rodriguez, along with his brother Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez filed a resolution granting the Aquino government “the authority to take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.”

In filing Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, the Rodriguezes cited the need to invoke Article XII (National Economic and Patrimony), Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.

Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, who had painted a grim scenario after some senators gave a cold shoulder on the resolution, also asked the Senate to prioritize the passage of the resolution when Congress resumes session on January 20.

“This is an issue that the Senate should prioritize on top of their calendar this 2015, in view of the possible power crisis this year,” he said.