Consistently inconsistent

" Why is Zarate now after Meralco?"



Left-leaning organization Bayan Muna never fails to have its voice “heard” on any national issue that would allow it to get TV airtime or space on local broadsheet. Sadly, most of the time, they are for the wrong reasons.

In particular, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and chairman Neri Colmenares continue to make noise on even the most mundane issues to rouse the militancy of the Filipino consumers against the current administration.

Zarate has a penchant to ‘dip his fingers’, ‘sawsaw’ in the local parlance, on issues that has no direct relation to what his party-list’s supposed objectives: to protect consumers’ rights.

It seems the left-leaning lawmaker is not keen on focusing his actions to meet his party’s goals. Rather, he appears to be ‘a man with a mission’ and with selfish intention of sabotaging economic development, for reasons only he knows. 

Over the last couple of months, Zarate and his party mates from Bayan Muna had been consistently blocking the implementation of competitive selection process (CSP), even filing a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the process. Ironically, they were initially among the heavy supporters of CSP and its implementation.

Under the Supreme Court ruling, all power supply agreements (filed after June 30, 2015)  were obliged to undergo a Competitive Selection Process to allow other potential power suppliers bid for the contract. The process is aimed at providing consumers get the best deal. And this, the CSP in particular, was also part of the demands of Bayan Muna.

PSA is a requirement from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Department of Energy to allow a generation company to construct power plants to help supply the country’s power.

However, after the CSP proceeded last week, awarding PSAs to three generation companies: Phinma Energy Corp., San Miguel Energy Corp. and South Premiere Power Corp. which offered the lowest rates for Meralco’s’ search for the supply of 1,200 megawatts starting December, Zarate doubled on his attack against the utility firm, this time, not only blaming it for the nation’s acute power shortage, but also accusing Meralco of rigging the bid.

But contrary to Zarate’s allegation that Meralco is out to manipulate the bidding process, Meralco never had a hand in the CSP as it was administered by the Third-Party Bids and Awards Committee constituted pursuant to the DoE Circular. 

The TPBAC was formed and headed by local and international procurement expert lawyer Ferdinand Domingo, with lawyer and former Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. The ERC was also assigned to enforce all pertinent rules and regulations. 

Two days after the first round of bidding, the TPBAC oversaw another bid—this time to supply Meralco 500 MW of mid-merit capacity effective 26 December 2019 for five years. After the opening and evaluation of the bids, the TPBAC declared the bids submitted by First Gen Hydro Power, Phinma Energy and South Premiere Power to be the best bids.

Several generation companies keenly participated in the open and transparent bidding process. Besides the three winning gencos for the 1,200-MW contract, two more companies SMC Consolidated Power Corp. and Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd. also joined the procurement process.

What is even more puzzling is that Zarate is trying to tell the media that the CSP will result in higher electricity rates, when in fact, they were the ones who pushed for the CSP, as it was seen as favorable for consumers, especially since the rates from all three best bids were evidently lower than the average generation cost today.

Once implemented next year, electricity consumers expect to save around P0.28 per kwh or P9.46 billion annually for 10 years from the new 1,200-MW PSA. On the 500-MW contract, consumers are also expected to save another P4.4 billion annually for the next five years. This is equivalent to an additional rate reduction of around P0.13 per kWh for consumers by yearend.

There is also another caveat to that: Under the contract, the power supplier who fails to follow through with the contracted capacity shall pay a fine of P908 multiplied by each megawatt-hour per day, which would be used to reduce the generation charge to consumers.

I just can’t fathom why Zarate and Bayan Muna are zeroing in on Meralco. Assuming there was rigging in the bid, aren’t we supposed to focus on the government agency supposedly responsible for effecting such?

(Continued tomorrow)

Topics: Charlie Manalo , Bayan Muna , Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate , Neri Colmenares
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