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Honest and frank

"I think President Duterte is trying his best."

This is one man’s opinion, but as far as I am concerned, the fifth State of the Nation Address by President Duterte last Monday was honest and frank, Santa Banana!

While there are those who believe that Duterte’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a failure, I believe nobody else could have done better. My gulay, considering the fact that COVID-19 is a pandemic, this is an acid test for all of us Filipinos. I think the President is trying his best to fight a faceless enemy.

If there has been a surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide, I attribute it to the lack of discipline of many Filipinos who break guidelines and health protocols out of either ignorance or defiance. They do not realize that this virus is a faceless killer.

People expected the President to present some sort of road map of our economic recovery. People lost jobs and businesses closed because of COVID-19. I expected Duterte to give some reassurance to the people and boost their confidence as we go into the so-called new normal.

I also do not agree with him on the need for a revival of the death penalty. Aside from the fact that there is no empirical data to support that capital punishment deters crime, my Catholic faith tells me that nobody can take away the life of another.

I agree with him, though, in the need for a separate department for Overseas Filipino Workers nd for disaster resiliency.

There will always be those who will disagree with him In the end, that is democracy.

* * *

The Philippine government has set a 100-percent electrification target for 2020.

We must note, however, that electrifying a barangay is vastly different from making sure that the people have uninterrupted power supply.

The island of Bantayan is an example. Before 2020, it was a popular tourist destination, known for its pristine beaches and 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.

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, it is 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.

Here’s some context:

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.

Why is BIPCOR protesting 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. It should spend the remainder of its contract addressing the issue of undersupply instead of throwing a tantrum.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Honest and frank , President Rodrigo Duterte , State of the Nation Address , SONA , COVID-19
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