TWC adopts Celso’s MinPOW substitute bill, two others PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 March 2015 11:17

During the Executive Meeting of the Technical Working Committee (TWC) of the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, Committee on Energy and Committee on Mindanao Affairs, the draft substitute bill on measures seeking to create the Mindanao Power Corporation (MinPOW) was adopted on March 18, 2015 in the House of Representatives. Said substitute bill consolidates House Bills 2621, 4883, and 676 authored by Representatives Celso Lobregat, Rufus and Maximo Rodriguez, and Edgardo Masongsong, respectively.

Lobregat’s MinPOW bill seeks the non-privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes, located in Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon provinces, which are considered the crown jewels of Mindanao power industry. “To ensure long-term adequate power to support Mindanao’s economic development, this bill seeks the creation of the Mindanao Power Corporation (MinPOW), a stand-alone government-owned and controlled corporation, which shall be empowered to acquire the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes from NPC/PSALM and raise sufficient funds for operating, maintaining, and improving such assets efficiently,” he said adding that the bill  also provides for the Mindanao Power Fund, which ensures lessening subsidy by the National Government in any power crisis situation.

The proposed bills on MinPOW were initially deliberated last March 4, 2015 by the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization chaired by Rep. Sacdalan and Committee on Energy chaired by Rep. Umali. The Joint Committee then decided to refer the bills to the TWC.

The TWC was chaired by Rep. Masongsong. The TWC adopted the substitute bill subject to the refinement of certain provisions. The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will forward their proposed amendments to the concerned Committees. The three committees together with MinDA will work on the finalization of the bill. Once finalized, the substitute bill will be referred back to the Mother Committee.

One of the issues raised during the meeting was the issue on Lake Lanao . The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) provides exclusive powers over inland waters. “With the grant of exclusive powers over inland waters (Lake Lanao) as proposed in the bill, and since utilization of these waters shall primary 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,” Lobregat stressed. 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, which provide a cheaper source of energy.

TWC Chair Masongsong asked MinDA to make a presentation on the options concerning MinPOW creation before the final adoption of the substitute bill by the Mother Committee. Lobregat further emphasized the concept of self-sufficiency wherein MinPOW should stand on its own.

It was proposed to set the Mother Committee meeting on May 5, 2015 to consider the final adoption of the substitute bill.

Present during the TWC meeting were TWC Chair Masongsong, Mindanao Affairs Chairman Arnulfo Go, Representatives Celso Lobregat, Juliette Uy, Leah Paquiz and Peter Unabia. Also present were MinDA representatives and committee secretaries of the three concerned committees. — Jubels Santos