House joint committees OK MinPOW sub bill; Celso, one of main authors PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 09:03

By Jubels Santos

During the Joint Committee Meeting of the Committees on Government Enterprises and Privatization, Energy and Mindanao Affairs, the substitute bill on measures seeking to create the Mindanao Power Corporation (MinPOW) was approved on May 19, 2015 in the House of Representatives. Said substitute bill consolidates House Bills 676, 2621 and 4883, authored by Representatives Edgardo Masongsong, Celso Lobregat, Rufus and Maximo Rodriguez, respectively.

The substitute bill will then be referred to the Committees on Appropriations and Ways and Means for the consideration of the funding and tax provisions.

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.

The proposed bills on MinPOW were initially deliberated last March 4, 2015 by the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization chaired by Rep. Jesus Sacdalan and Committee on Energy chaired by Rep. Reynaldo Umali. Later on, the two committees were joined by the Committee on Mindanao Affairs, chaired by Rep. Arnulfo Go, since the measure concerns Mindanao. The Joint Committees then decided to refer the bills to the Technical Working Committee (TWC). The TWC was chaired by Rep. Masongsong. The TWC adopted the substitute bill with refinement of certain provisions. The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) forwarded their proposed amendments to the concerned Committees. The three committees together with MinDA worked on the finalization of the bill. Then, the final substitute bill was referred back to the Mother Committee for approval. Prior to the referral to the Mother Committee, 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. MinDA made a presentation before the TWC on their position on the establishment of MinPOW last April 27, 2015.  Then on May 19, 2015, the TWC presented to the Mother Committee the substitute bill and the same was approved and will be referred to Committees on Appropriations and Ways and Means.

One of the issues concerning the MinPOW bill 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. — Jubels Santos