Friday, December 02, 2005



By Jeehan V. Fernandez and Francis Allan L. Angelo

TOP Iloilo City and provincial officials Iloilo urged the Energy Regulatory Commission to save the city from a possible power blackout even as they suggested to Mirant Global Corporation, owner of Panay Power Corporation (PPC), and Panay Electric Company (Peco) to settle their “financial differences.”
This, after a top Mirant executive revealed the other day that they are losing hundreds of millions of pesos in the last two months after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ordered Peco to reduce its rates.
Arman Lapus, Mirant vice President for Visayas New Business, said if the ERC does not allow Peco to revert to its old rate, PPC might shut down by end of this year.
Yesterday, acting Iloilo City Mayor Guillermo Dela Llana said “Mirant should ask Peco to pay what is due them.”
During his conversation with Lapus and PPC officials Wednesday, Dela Llana suggested to PPC to seek the help of the business community to support them in their call to revert to the old Peco rates.
“I instructed Mirant to appeal to businessmen and make them commit their support for the continued operation of the power plant. I also suggested that they compromise with each other,” Dela Llana explained.
Peco has pending petition with the ERC to revalidate its power purchase agreement with PPC. The public hearing for the said petition is scheduled on December 9 here in Iloilo City.
However, Dela Llana said it is up to Mayor Jerry Treñas to make a stand on the looming power blackout if ever PPC ceases from operating.
“I can’t say anything right now. We will have to wait for the decision of the mayor. I don’t know what will be the stand of the city. Whatever the mayor endorses to the City Council, then we will look into the matter,” Dela Llana told reporters yesterday.
Meanwhile, Councilor Jed Mabilog said it is up to the ERC to come up with a win-win decision to save Iloilo City from a possible blackout.
“The ball is now with the ERC to decide on a setup that will be beneficial to PPC, Peco and the consumers. And we also appeal to the two power firms to settle their differences,” Mabilog said.
Mabilog was also optimistic that PPC will not allow Iloilo City to plunge into darkness. But in the event that such situation is inevitable “then we should ready our disaster response mechanism.”
“We will wait and see if PPC will indeed shutdown. But we just hope it won’t happen,” the neophyte councilor said.
Governor Niel Tupas was also concerned with PPC’s pronouncements although he doubts the power firm will just stop from operating.
“Under the law, PPC cannot just leave us in the dark. The solution now lies in the hands of the ERC commissioners,” Tupas said.
Atty. Romeo Gerochi, who has waged a crusade against Peco, said the power distributor can go to the National Power Corporation (Napocor) in Dingle, Iloilo for power supply.
Gerochi said the Napocor is due to activate the Pinamucan power plant which has a higher capacity than PPC.
But Napocor officials already admitted the Pinamucan diesel-fired power plant is not enough to augment the power needs of Iloilo.
It has been more than a year since the Napocor transferred the Pinamucan power plant, which cost the government more than P600million, but it has yet to operate due to mechanical defects.

‘Hello Garci’ in SEA Games? Why not, says ex-cabinet member

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FILIPINOS should not wonder if Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra accused us of cheating in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games.
After all, President Gloria Arroyo is accused by some of her own countrymen of rigging last year’s elections, a former cabinet secretary said.
Former National Anti-Poverty Commission secretary Teresita “Ding” Quintos-Deles yesterday said questions against the legitimacy Arroyo administration has already reached the international community.
“Internationally, we are being regarded as adept cheaters since doubts on the President’s legitimacy have preceded her even to the SEA Games. For the international community, Filipinos have the penchant to cheat as there is still no closure to the allegations against the President despite the pronouncements of her spokesperson that the ‘Hello Garci’ issue is a closed book already,” Deles said.
Deles, also the former chairman of the government peace panel, was in Iloilo City yesterday to grace the opening of the 6th NGO-PO Week celebration.
The celebration is spearheaded by the Iloilo Coalition of People’s Organizations and Non-Government Organizations.
Deles said the lingering issues of alleged cheating and graft and corruption against the President is giving the country a bad image.
“Our dilemma now is how we can protect our reputation against derisive accusations when our very leaders are also under suspicion of cheating. Our sense of morality is now diminished,” she said.
Still, Deles said Shinawatra’s statements were undiplomatic and distasteful for a foreign official to make “and that must be addressed through diplomatic channels.”
“It was an extraordinary statement on the part of high foreign official to accuse a nation of cheating and it was very rude as we are the host country. But once foreign leaders speak like that about us, we should start wondering why,” Deles said.
But Thai sports officials have apologized for Shinawatra’s statement even as President Arroyo ordered an investigation into her counterpart’s allegations.
Meanwhile, Deles attributed the surge in violence between government and rebel forces to the government’s lack of focus on the peace and order situation.
“During my time as adviser for peace process, we really gave our full attention to the peace talks and any encounters between the military and the rebels. But since the present government is pre-occupied with political survival, we can expect more clashes in the future,” Deles said.
Deles, along with other members of the so-called Hyatt 10, resigned from the Arroyo cabinet and exposed alleged irregularities committed by the President to win in the last elections.
Deles is now one of the stalwarts of the Black and White Movement which is also calling for reforms in the government and the resignation of the President. (Published in The Guardian-Western Visayas, December 2, 2005)


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