Power struggle

"Why throw tantrums instead of improving your performance?"


Santa Banana, taking into consideration the fact that the Bureau of Corrections has become a graft-ridden and corrupt agency, there is need for the National Bureau of Investigation to dig deeper into the death of 21 inmates of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

It does seem suspicious that after it was revealed that there were no less than nine high-profile convicted drug lords behind prison bars, Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag refused to come out with the names of those who died when asked by the Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra. This will just make people speculate, my gulay!

Bantag invoked the Privacy Law in not disclosing the names of those who had died. This was later on denied by those implementing that law.

What makes the death of the inmates really suspicious is that we don’t know who died of COVID-19. The fact that they were cremated after their death raises questions. Knowing how corrupt the BuCor is, some bright boys in the agency could have easily switched the bodies and claimed that they belonged to the convicted drug lords.


Electricity has long been thought of as a basic human right by more progressive countries in Europe, for the sheer impact it has on the reduction of poverty, the improvement of health, the increase in productivity, and the uplifting of the standards of living.

In line with this, the Philippines has been identified as one of the 20 high impact countries whose efforts to increase access to electricity can make the most difference on a global scale. As such. The government has set a 100 percent electrification target for 2020.

However, electrifying a barangay is vastly different from making sure that the people have uninterrupted power supply. Take for instance the island of Bantayan near Cebu and Bohol. Before 2020, it was a popular tourist destination, known for its pristine beaches ad varied wildlife. It was also known as the fishing basket of the Visayas, ensuring that the people of Cebu and Bohol were fed. Currently, all three municipalities in Bantayan are 100-percent energized. They are served by the Bantayan Electric Cooperative. The electricity that Banelco distributes currently is generated by the Bantayan Island Power Corporation, the sole producer.

Bantayan has been experiencing power shortages since 2018. This has been more keenly felt this year in the midst of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. My gulay, from January to May this year Banelco recorded an average of three to six hours of daily power interruption because of BIPCOR’s power supply shortfall. In fact, there have been extreme instances of nine- to 16-hour interruptions. Sometimes the outages last for 24 hours.

Santa Banana, what is this, 1991? You’d think that 30 years later, it would be impossible to envision an island without stable electricity. Yet here we are.

What is more infuriating for the residents of Bantayan is that BIPCOR does not seem to have any concrete plans to improve its performance. Technically, they are still the provider until November 2021, but there seems to be no urgency to improve. In fact, it appears that BIPCOR is expending more energy on fighting Banelco in the newspapers instead of doing its job.

A cursory glance at the Banelco social media sites sheds more light on the condition that resident are living in. And yet, BIPCOR seems to think that a back-and-forth with Banelco is a smarter use of their time.

To give more context to what seems to be the gripes of a bitter significant other, here is a summary of what transpired between BIPCOR and Banelco. In anticipation of a prolonged and worsening power supply deficit, Banelco conducted what is known as a Competitive Selection Process in July of 2020. This is essentially a bidding process, and is required to adhere to standards set by the Department of Energy in October 2019. Banelco issued a Notice of Award to the winning bidder, which has gone on to prepare for the contract by forming a new company dedicated to supplying the needs of Bantayan. Furthermore they appear to have entered into a partnership with a global firm, in order to provide stable power to the island when their contract starts next year.

BIPCOR is calling foul on Banelco, saying that the bidding process was rushed and irregular. Yet, in the same breath, they acknowledged they did not have complete requirements when they submitted their bid. Furthermore, they don’t seem to be respecting the Court of Mandaue like when they filed a petition for temporary restraining order against the award of the contract. The Court of Mandaue did not issue a TRO.

Now there is a heated back-and-forth battle between the two companies about the merits of the bid, the rejoinder, the statement released essentially with BIPCOR waging a battle in the clouds without solving problems on the ground.

I can’t understand why BIPCOR is protesting too much about not being chosen for the bid. If you have not been able to deliver the needed power supply in your contract, how can you expect to be chosen again?

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems BIPCOR has not fully thought this through. Why doesn’t it just spend the remainder of its contract addressing the issue of undersupply rather than throwing a tantrum?


Now we know why the Lopezes of ABS-CBN are soliciting support from the public. They are planning to launch a People’s Initiative – which to me is an impossible dream.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Bureau of Corrections , New Bilibid Prison , Bantayan Island Power Corporation , BIPCOR
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