Lobregat sponsors DOE budget; explains how BBL affects power PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 12:52

Congressman Celso Lobregat sponsored the budget of the Department of Energy (DOE), including its attached corporations, and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

During the plenary deliberation of the said agencies last September 22, 2014, Lobregat was asked by Congressman Neri Colmenares on the impact of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on the energy situation in Mindanao .

Lobregat stressed that the proposed BBL would greatly affect the whole of Mindanao . Historically, Mindanao has been enjoying lower power rates in comparison to Luzon and Visayas because more than 50% of its electricity comes from hydroelectric power plants, specifically the Agus and Pulangui hydroelectric power plants, which provide a cheaper source of energy. The water used to run the Agus hydroelectric plants come from Lake Lanao and Agus 1 with a capacity of 80 mega watts is located in Marawi, while Agus 2 with a capacity of 200 mega watts is located in Saguiran, Lanao del Sur.

Mindanao has been experiencing intermittent brownouts sometimes lasting 6-8 hours because of the lack and decrease of power generation due to low water levels of Lake Lanao , lessening the supply coming from the hydroelectric power plants and further compounded with the breakdown, repair, and maintenance of non-hydro-generating power plants.

Under the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro government (HB 4994 – Article V Section 3 Item 15), “it shall have authority to regulate power generation, transmission, and distribution operating exclusively in the Bangsamoro and not connected to the national transmission grid…When power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities are connected to the national transmission grid, the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government shall cooperate and coordinate through the intergovernmental relations mechanism.”

Also included under the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro Government is the public utilities operation (HB 4994 – Article V Section 3 Item 16) which provides that “in case of inter-regional utilities, there shall be cooperation and coordination among the relevant government agencies.

Bangsamoro Government also has exclusive jurisdiction on inland waters (HB 4994 Article V Section 3 Item 36). Inland waters include lakes and “the Bangsamoro Government shall ensure that the utilization of these waters shall primarily be for the benefit of the people in the Bangsamoro and shall ensure that communities in the Bangsamoro in whose territory these waters are found are given an equitable share from the revenues generated from such utilization.” (HB 4994 Article XIII – Economy and Patrimony, Section 22 - Inland Waters)

Lobregat further stated that “if Congress passes the law as is without amendments, the whole of Mindanao will be affected. With the grant of exclusive powers of the inland waters (Lake Lanao) and since utilization of these waters shall primarily be for the benefit of the people in the Bangsamoro, in terms of electricity and power, the entire Mindanao will be in the mercy of the Bangsamoro.”

Furthermore, DOE was never consulted by the OPAPP or the GPH Panel regarding the use of the lake during the peace negotiation. Likewise, ERC, the agency of government tasked to regulate power generation, transmission and distribution, was never consulted by the OPAPP or GPH Panel on the matter.

Lobregat also related the scenario on the current issue on the request for additional powers by the President to address the power crisis situation in Mindanao . He said “at present there is only one government to decide on the power situation in Mindanao but with the Bangsamoro system, there would be two governments coordinating and will decide. This scenario will have an implication to Mindanao as it will not only affect the territories within the Bangsamoro but the whole of Mindanao.” — Jubels Santos