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Hataman seeks review of Napocor operations amid looming power cut

January 24, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 207 views

DEPUTY Minority Leader and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman have filed a resolution seeking a review of the operations of the National Power Corporation-Small Power Utility Group (NPC-SPUG) in view of its announcement of a reduction in electricity service in covered areas starting on February 1.

Hataman said the announcement came only a few months after the crippling power crisis that affected not only Basilan but parts of Mindanao and Luzon.

This time, the NPC-SPUG said the reasons behind the reduction are the shortage in fuel supply and a delay in the subsidy payment of Universal Cost for Missionary Electrification (UCME).

“Matagal na itong problema ng mga island-provinces tulad ng aming sa Basilan, lagi na lang nagtitiis ang aming mamamayan sa napaka-unreliable na power service ng Napocor. Naniniwala ako na dapat na itong i-review para masolusyunan,” Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), stated.

“Hindi naman tama na tanggapin na lang namin ang aming kalagayan. Baka dapat tingnan na natin ang batas at pag-usapan ang mga solusyon sa problema ng Napocor para hindi na paulit-ulit ang ganitong mga pangyayari,” he added.

The resolution is asking the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives to conduct a review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA Law), specifically on the operations of the NPC-SPUG with the end view of preventing the recurring power outages in isolated small island grids.

He said the problem persists not only in Basilan, but island provinces such as Sulu, Jolo, and even Palawan, where tourism is affected if power outages occur.

“Lagi na lang ganito ang problema ng Napocor sa mga SPUG areas nila: mataas ang presyo ng diesel, delayed ang payment sa subsidy ng UCME, may shortage sa fuel. Hanggang ngayon ba hindi pa sila natuto sa paulit-ulit na problemang ganito? Wala silang ready na solusyon tuwing mangyayari ito?” Hataman asked.

“Ni-raise na natin ito noong nakaraang budget hearing. Year in, year out, we hear the same problems. Hindi nagagawan ng paraan, walang permanenteng solusyon. Meanwhile, ang mga mamamayan ang napeperwisyo tuwing may kakulangan ang Napocor,” he said.

Last year’s power crisis involved long hours of power outages with a threat of a total power blackout in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao unless the NPC (National Power Corporation) settles its obligations amounting to P1.2 billion to Petron.

The total blackout was averted when the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Finance (DOF), and the Department of Budget Management (DBM) intervened upon the prodding of Hataman.

“‘Pag nawawalan ng kuryente, apektado ang serbisyo ng pamahalaan, nababalahaw ang daloy ng negosyo at tumitigil ang mundo ng mga tao. Ganito kahalaga ang elektrisidad lalo na sa papaunlad na lalawigan tulad ng Basilan,” Hataman said.

“Imbes na umusad tayo pasulong, para tayong naglalakad ng paurong kapag hanggang ngayon ay brownout pa rin ang problema natin,” he further explained.

“Kaya sana ay masolusyunan na itong problema ng NAPOCOR. And we don’t need band-aid solutions, we need lasting, sustainable steps to plug the holes in the law.”

The problem, Hataman said, seems to stem from the failure of NPC to meet financial obligations due to an array of reasons.

“Baka may flaw sa mga proseso nito o may kulang sa mandato ng batas. O baka kailangan nating dagdagan ang fallbacks ng Napocor sa tuwing may haharapin itong problema at kailangan ng pagkukunan ng pondo. Makikita natin ito pag nahimay natin ang kanilang mandato sa batas,” he explained.

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