Wednesday, March 17, 2010

GMA cronies took advantage of Mindanao power crisis - Erap

The Philippine Star
Updated March 18, 2010
12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Joseph Estrada accused yesterday the Arroyo administration of causing the power crisis in Mindanao to “line the pockets” of associates.

Speaking to reporters at the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) national headquarters in Mandaluyong, Estrada said the power crisis in Mindanao could have been avoided had the administration acted on it properly.

“The Arroyo administration did not take any concrete steps to avoid the calamity,” he said.

“It actually concocted the crisis as another means to line the pockets of its favored cronies yet again and further savage the economy.”

Estrada said if allowed to go unchecked, the power crisis in Mindanao could derail the elections on May 10.

“This government is not interested in solving the problem, a problem of its own making,” he said.

“It precipitated the crisis precisely to give them the reason to defraud the people through yet another graft scheme.”

Estrada said the daily eight-hour power outage in Mindanao could last till election day.

“It’s a very dire scenario that evokes all sorts of grim projections, including a failure of elections that could trigger tragic consequences,” he said.

“I don’t lightly throw accusations, but all available evidence point to this conclusion.

“The power shortage was preventable with just a little foresight and a modicum of honesty.”

Estrada said on a daily basis, the load requirement in Mindanao is 500 to 650 megawatts and the daily peak load requirement ranges from 1,200 to 1,380 megawatts.

The deficit is 600 to 750 megawatts as a result of the eight to 12-hour daily blackouts, he added.

Estrada said by declaring a state of calamity in Mindanao, Mrs. Arroyo is allowing the national government and local governments to allocate funds for the crisis without clarifying how it would be used.

“As if on cue, Rep. Mikey Arroyo, the President’s son, proposed allocation of P10 billion ostensibly to solve the problem,” he said.

Estrada said under Mikey’s proposal, P4.5 billion of the P10 billion will go to agriculture, while the rest of the P5.5 billion will be used to lease 160 modular generators each with one megawatt capacity.

“Why are they preparing for only 160 megawatts, when the deficit is 600 to 750 megawatts?” he asked.

“Enough of fooling the people. The problem in Mindanao has a solution and the solution to the problem does not include a scheme for tongpats!” referring to the practice of excess charges for profit.

Estrada said based on his computations, the government only needs P2.1 billion, not P5.5 billion to lease generating sets that can produce 160 megawatts.

“The cost of 160 one-megawatt generators for six months is as follows: P624 million in rent, P1.382 billion in fuel consumption and P80 million in mobilization/demobilization,” he said.

“That will add up to only P2.086 billion. So there is a remaining of P3.4 billion. Where will they use this huge amount of money? It smells of corruption.”

Estrada said the government’s claim that it will only generate 160 megawatts is highly suspicious because the deficit is 600 megawatts, which will cost P20.6 billion to produce using their formula.

“Meaning to say, if the people complain again, these greedy will ask another P13.1 billion,” he said.

“Isn’t it a clear tongpats? This does not include the newly announced $100 million or P4.8 billion that Mrs. Arroyo has ordered the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines to borrow from the private sector, which will they will rake in from the generator set. They are using the crisis to profit.”

Estrada said the government should encourage the private sector to engage in bayanihan, or the neighborly practice of helping each other out.

“Let us enlist the participation of the private sector,” he said.

“Let us ask our countrymen, particularly the big capitalists, to be thrifty in using power. Let us encourage the big corporations to use their generators especially during peak hours.

“We can persuade business corporations and rich households to cut down power consumption by at least 10 percent.

“That will amount to 120 megawatts. We will also appeal to these firms to keep their emergency generators running.” – Jose Rodel Clapano

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