Lobregat presides DOE budget hearing, energy issues raised PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 September 2015 14:01

by Jubels Santos

District 1 Representative Celso L. Lobregat presides over the budget hearing of the Department of Energy (DOE) and its attached corporations on Monday, September 7, 2015 in the House of Representatives.

Lobregat is the Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations who is tasked to sponsor and defend the budget of DOE and its attached corporations which include the National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Power Corporation (NPC), Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), National Transmission Corporation (Transco), and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), as well as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The budget hearing of the DOE took the whole day of September 7. It started at almost 10am and ended at past 5pm.  OIC Secretary Zenaida Monsada presented the FY2016 proposed DOE budget amounting to PhP1.8 Billion. This was followed by the budget presentation of its attached corporations which include NEA, NPC, PNOC, Transco and PSALM.

After the presentations, House members had their interpellations and raised energy issues before the body. One issue concerns the privatization of SEAG which was raised by Representative Edgardo Masongsong (1-CARE party-list) as there was a petition by AMRECO to defer the privatization of SEAG until 2019-2020. Lobregat’s position was to defer the privatization of the Mindanao coal or SEAG until the power supply in Mindanao is stabilized.

The issue of the Agus and Pulangui was also brought out by Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez and reiterated Mindanao’s position for the non-privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes. Together with Masongsong and Rodriguez, Lobregat is one of the authors of the measure seeking to create the Mindanao Power Corporation and for the non-privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes.

Rodriguez also brought out the issue of SEAG and Lobregat mentioned that it was earlier discussed. Lobregat told PSALM that if they will not exclude the privatization of SEAG in the schedule, he will refuse to sponsor their budget. Rodriguez commended Lobregat’s firm position and even said “That’s our Chairman!”

The issue of granting emergency powers considering the alleged looming power crisis in Luzon was also brought out by Representative Fernando Hicap (ANAKPAWIS party-list). Lobregat said that Mindanao has been experiencing rotating brownouts and there is an actual power crisis but the DOE never recommended for the granting of emergency powers.  But when there was only a possibility of a power crisis in Luzon, there was immediately a call for emergency powers.

Issues on Malampaya, power demand-supply outlook and the forecast in view of the upcoming El Niño phenomenon, MERALCO rate increase, among others, were also raised during the said hearing.

The energy family was represented by their respective heads namely OIC-Secretary Zenaida Monsada of DOE, Administrator Edita Bueno of NEA, President and CEO Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita of NPC, President and CEO Antonio Cailao of PNOC, OIC Generoso Senal of Transco and President and CEO Lourdes Alzona of PSALM.

ERC will hold a separate pre-plenary briefing. After the budget hearings in the committee level, the FY 2016 budget will be deliberated in the Plenary starting September 28. — Jubels Santos