Senators slam emergency powers for PNoy

Posted at 01/13/14 6:05 PM

MANILA - More and more senators are opposing a proposal by some congressmen to give President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to address an impending power rate hike.

“There is no need for emergency powers to be granted to the President…Instead of emergency powers, the executive should busy themselves in formulating a plan so that we can have an all-inclusive energy road map,” Senator JV Ejercito said in a statement.

He suggested the government should just review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

Senator Ralph Recto said the same, noting emergency powers should be the last resort.

“It is also a move fraught with political risks because once he has it, the onus of solving the energy crisis falls on him. If electricity rates will go up, for example, the people will expect him to tame the increase on the mistaken belief that he has the power to moderate them,” he said in a separate statement.

“In other words, emergency powers is politically high-voltage that it can electrocute him. People will see it as the magic wand that can make high power rates go away or power plants go up in an instance,” he said.

He agreed with Ejercito in reviewing the EPIRA.

“The DOE guys have good proposals. That agency is not suffering from a mental blackout. All they have to do is package them in one reform legislation,” Recto said.

Senator Serge Osmena also agreed, saying “emergency thinking” is needed and not “emergency powers."

Senator Chiz Escudero earlier said the House of Representatives should not be the one suggesting emergency powers for Aquino.

Several members of the House of Representatives earlier suggested limited powers for Aquino to allow him to control power generation amid the issue of rate hikes.

Power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) was already in the midst of implementing the rate hike until it was stopped by the Supreme Court.

Meralco earlier announced the rate increase, which was to be imposed in three tranches, as a result of the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya gas plant. The shutdown resulted in Meralco buying more expensive electricity from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market to cover for the deficit needed in its jurisdiction.

The distribution firm later warned of rotating blackouts in case it is barred permanently from implementing the rate hike.

Malacanang said Aquino has not discussed the issue.