As the demand for energy in the Philippines continues to increase due to heightened infrastructure development and a growing population, the need to tap new sources of energy has become more critical in order to avoid severe power outages in the near future.
Cognizant of this bleak possibility, a group of energy advocates have banded together to form the Philippine Energy Independence Council whose main goal is to move the government and the private sector to explore new indigenous, renewable, and cleaner energy options for the country.
In line with this, the PEIC aims to initiate and sustain specific conversations on indigenous energy, renewable energy, energy security, energy independence, and other pertinent concepts with the youth, with rural communities, and with local and national government officials.
PEIC is the first formal association in the country committed mainly to achieving the Philippines’ energy independence. “Our council aims to be at the forefront of initiatives to continuously initiate public discourses in order to move government and private-sector decision-makers to beef up our energy reserves,” noted PEIC chairman Dr. Tony La Viña. “We hope that these discussions can lead to concrete steps towards the goal of energy independence.”
Currently an Energy Collaboratory Director, a Senior Fellow in climate change of the Manila Observatory, and former dean of the Ateneo School of Law, La Viña stressed, “Every member of the PEIC shares the same vision of a more energy-independent Philippines that can produce its own fuel to meet the country’s demands—ultimately eliminating the Philippines’ dependence on other fuel-producing nations.”
PEIC was launched during Powertrends 2019, held last Sept. 3 at the SMX Convention Center in Manila. Powertrends, the longest-running energy exhibition in the country, brought together the major players in the energy sector who exchanged knowledge and opinions about current energy issues in the country.
“In the Philippines, the twin factors of economic and population growth have tolled heavily on the country's energy resources,” shared Paulo Gavino of Shell Philippines Exploration BV (SPEX), one of the supporters of PEIC. “And with the expected huge increase in demand for more and cleaner energy by our fast-growing economy, there is already an urgent need to create alternative energy sources that are indigenous and sustainable,” Gavino added.
The PEIC's advocacy is anchored on three objectives: To address current and future energy reserve issues, push for better alternative sources of energy, such as renewables and natural gas, and synergize the public and private sectors to forge a path towards energy security and, eventually, energy independence for the Philippines.
Also present during the launch was actress and environment advocate Jasmine Curtis-Smith, who is PEIC’s millennial ambassador. In her talk, Curtis-Smith revealed how her environment advocacy led her to an awareness of the pressing energy issues in the country.
“While traveling across the country for my other advocacies and film projects, I have seen many communities having no access to energy,“ Curtis-Smith shared. “While I encountered some communities that may have access to electricity but hardly use it because of its high cost,” she added.
“So when I found out that our country’s reliance on imports tolled heavily on energy cost, I knew that something should be done in order for the Philippines to be more energy independent—that is, to have enough energy resources within our country to supply our own energy demands,” Curtis-Smith explained.
Curtis-Smith also shared that, for her part, she will help make young people like her be more aware of the current energy situation. “My role, as a millennial ambassador, is to bring the discourse of energy independence to the youth, and I am hoping that through this platform that I was given and with the youth’s help, we can actually motivate our decision-makers to invest more in our own energy sources,” she declared.
The PEIC aims to conduct roadshows and talks all over the country in line with their objective of moving public and private decision-makers to stand up, take notice, and work more aggressively towards energy independence.
“The fact remains that our country needs a significant leap to explore and develop untapped natural resources in strategic locations in the country,” La Viña noted. “Energy security–the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price–should, therefore, be a priority issue in every policy discussion in pursuit of national development” he added.
The PEIC believes that it is important for the government to act promptly in exploring the prospects of indigenous energy from sources within the Philippines. “The council thus calls on thought leaders, business players, and all Filipinos to come together to push for energy security and, ultimately, energy independence of the country,” he declared.