THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has assured members of the House of Representatives that it would release some P1.26 billion in funds to the National Power Corporation (Napocor) for the settlement of its obligations to fuel providers and avert a crippling power crisis in some parts of Mindanao and Luzon.
During Friday’s Committee on Appropriations hearing on the national budget with the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC), Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman asked DBM Sec. Amenah F. Pangandaman on the status of the request of Napocor for the said funds that will be used to pay oil company Petron, for fuel charges.
Hataman said the power outages in Basilan and other parts of the country will only get “worse” if Petron decides not to deliver fuel to at least ten power plants should Napocor fail to secure payment of at least P1.26 billion of its over P2 billion obligation.
“We received the same information from (DOE) Secretary Lotilla. We are just waiting for the request if we can find funding for the fuel charges, I think it is roughly P1 billion until the end of the year,” Pangandaman told members of the committee.“I already talked to Sec. (Raphael) Lotilla on the matter, and we are just waiting for the request from the department to initiate the processing of the release of the P1.2 billion for the fuel,” she added.
Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), earlier met with Napocor officials on the power outages in Basilan after receiving a letter from the agency informing the lawmaker of its predicament with fuel providers.
If Napocor fails to settle its obligations with Petron within the next several days, the oil company will not deliver fuel to Basilan’s power plants, which are composed of one diesel power plant and two power barges: one in Isabela City and another in Lamitan. The province’s power plant and power barges are under Napocor’s Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG).
“Total power outage ang mangyayari sa amin sa Basilan kung hindi makakabayad ang Napocor. Kaya minabuti natin na i-follow up sa DBM ang kanilang request para sa pondo nang sa gayon ay maagapan ang posibleng power crisis hindi lang sa aming lalawigan, kundi sa ibang lugar din,” Hataman said.
“Nauunawaan natin ang kalagayan ng Napocor dahil alam nating tumaas ang presyo ng petrolyo sa pandaigdigang merkado dahil sa Ukraine-Russia war. Kaya kailangan ng dagliang solusyon, at tingnan natin kung ano ang maaari nating itulong sa ahensya para maiwasan ito sa susunod na taon,” he added.
Napocor, in dealing with increasing fuel prices and addressing its payment deficiencies, told Hataman it had requested the DOE (Department of Energy) and DOF (Department of Finance) an augmentation of funds for 2022.
The agency also asked to avail of unprogrammed funds in the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the utilization of a P1.3 billion national government subsidy from DBM in prior years.