Friday, March 19, 2010

Erap merely ‘misinformed’ on crisis — Mikey

By Charlie V. Manalo

Original Story:

After getting the flak along with his mother, President Arroyo, from former President Joseph Estrada for failing to anticipate the power crisis in Mindanao and the P10 billion overpriced solution offered for it, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo opted for a soft touch, saying that Estrada may have been merely misinformed about the emergency situation in the southern region.

Estrada, Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard bearer, at a forum the other day, cited overpriced deals involving generator sets which will be used to augment the supply of electricity in Mindanao.

In a text message, the younger Arroyo, who is chairman of the House energy committee said while he believes in the objectivity of the former president, Estrada might have been misinformed on the Mindanao issue.

“I have always respected former President Estrada, holding him in high regard. In this

presidential campaingn, I see him to be objective and had never launched any tirade on anyone just to further his candidacy unlike other presidentiables,” Arroyo said. “However, I believe he was misinformed this time on the issue of the calamity for the Mindanao power crisis,” he added.

Arroyo said it was not his proposal that Mindanao be placed under a state of calamity so that the P10 billion calamity fund would be released to ease the problem.

“It was based on the recommendation of a multi-sectoral group in Mindanao during the House energy committee hearing in Davao City last week, which (Estrada’s) party-mate, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposed to the committee through a motion which was duly seconded by another solon from the minority, Congresswoman Darlene Custodio,” Arroyo explained.

The president’s son said that Rodriguez was even firm on his motion asking for the P10 billion calamity fund to be released to the Department of Energy (DoE) to solve the island’s energy problem.

“In Congressman Rodriguez’s own words, he said unleash the fund needed to solve this crisis.” Arroyo recalled.

With regard as to how the fund will be spent on solving Mindanao’s power crisis, Arroyo said the bulk of the P5.5 billion allotment will be used to extend loans to private sectors so that they can procure generator sets and power barges with the assurance that the government will purchase the power that they produce.

“So, we are not only dealing here with an additional 160 megawatts generating capacity,” he stressed.

“In fact, Congressman Rufus has also questioned the loan assistance to the private sector saying the entire P5.5 billion out of the P10 billion should be released to the DoE and that the DoE should manage the entire fund for procuring generator sets, power barges and the dredging of the Pulangi River aimed at restoring the Agus-Pulangi Hydro Power Plant to its maximum generating capacity.”

“With regard to his statement that this administration failed to take concrete steps to avoid the Mindanao calamity, it was the Epira which prohibited the government through the Napocor to incur additional debts to procure additional generating capacity. The Epira Law was counting that this would encourage competition in the energy sector and would entice the private sector to pour in investment,” Arroyo said.

With Mindanao relying more on power produced from hydroelectric plants which is the cheapest source of energy, Arroyo said the hoped for competition and additional investment did not materialize.

“And that is the primary reason I am proposing that the Epira Law be revisited, reviewed and subjected to amendments,” Arroyo said.

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