‘Powers won’t stop outages’

MALACAÑANG said Tuesday the government had limited options to deal with the expected power shortages this summer because the emergency powers granted to President Benigno Aquino III to deal with the problem would take effect only six months after it was passed into law.

But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Department of Energy was prepared and able to act on any power shortages this year.

“Sa kabila ‘nung delay na naganap ay nagsagawa naman ang DOE ng nararapat na koordinasyon sa pribadong sektor at kumpara doon sa period ng August-September last year. Mataas ‘yung kumpiyansa ng DOE na malalagpasan natin ‘yung kung anumang power supply deficiency ang mararanasan natin sa mga darating na linggo at buwan,” Coloma said.

“Kaya sa pangkalahatan, makikita naman natin na ayon doon sa latest projection ng DOE, nakikita nilang minimal ‘yung maaaring maging shortage o power supply deficiency.”

Coloma made his statement even as Manila Electric Co. on Tuesday warned that while initial studies indicated a blackout-free summer this year, Luzon’s power supply will hinge on the performance of its power plants.

Meralco chairman Manuel Pangilinan said the interruptible load program will help ease the impact of any power shortages starting this month.

“The latest reading is most likely [no blackouts],” he said, adding that two more power plants will online this month to add to the power supply.

Meanwhile, women activists on Tuesday slammed the emergency powers granted to President Benigno Aquino III.

Joan May Salvador, secretary general of the Gabriela National Alliance of Women, said Aquino did not need special powers to deal with the looming power crisis but instead an emergency exit.

“The people want him out, and now here they [lawmakers] are giving him more power,” Salvador said.

“She called Aquino an abusive leader, citing his lapses that led to the killing of 44 police commandos during an encounter with Muslim rebels.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed on third and final reading a Joint Resolution allowing President Benigno Aquino III to address any potential power shortages during the summer.

But the recent passage of the emergency power might be useless since the implementation should be six months after the lawmakers passed the proposal into law.

Coloma said the decision was not in the hands of the Executive branch, and that even though there was no emergency powers, the Energy Department was prepared for any eventualities.

“Sa Kabuuan, hindi naman sila umaasa doon sa pagkakariin ng emergency powers dahil wala naman ‘yon sa control ng ehekutibo,” he said.

“What important is, whatever the final version of the joint congressional resolution, the DOE has put in place some steps and has been prepared the public about energy conservation measures.

“The government is not hoping on the passage of the emergency legislation. Our proactive preparation was done even without it,” he added.

Senator Sergio Osmena III, the chairman of the Senate energy committee, and Senator Francis Escudero have said there is no need for emergency powers to deal with the looming power crisis.

The Department of Energy earlier said a reserve supply shortfall of 21 to 31 megawatts might occur this April. With Alena Mae S. Flores and Rio N. Araja

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