Senator Risa Hontiveros has called on Malacañang to quickly address the increasing number of power outages in Mindoro and other parts of the country.
The opposition senator also urged top energy officials to explain why Filipinos are experiencing service interruptions despite assurances last year that the nation’s power supply would be stable in 2023.
Hontiveros made this statement after Guimaras, Panay, and Negros islands were hit by a series of blackouts last week, the latest of power woes affecting the Visayas grid.
Meanwhile, areas such as Occidental Mindoro have been experiencing weeks of power outages, some of which have lasted as long as 20 hours per day. Oriental Mindoro is also experiencing power supply shortages.
Even the Manila International Airport suffered a power interruption that disrupted dozens of flights.
“Mr. President, the government’s response to the power problem cannot be limited to prayer alone. Our grids, from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, are experiencing service interruptions. There are yellow and red alerts in different provinces,” Hontiveros said.
“The people of Mindoro, who are already affected by an oil spill, are being deprived of electricity. The people should not be suffering like this, especially in the midst of a scorching summer season,” she said.
According to Hontiveros, the nation’s top energy officials should explain why a “nationwide power crisis” seems to be looming despite assurances last year that the country’s power supply was not in danger.
“During the 2023 budget deliberations in the Senate last October, we were told that the power supply would remain sufficient and stable for this year, and that regulatory issues pertaining to high rates were being addressed. What happened?,” Hontiveros asked.
The senator is also questioning the seemingly muted response from energy officials such as Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla. She pointed out the timing of statements from Malacañang in relation to private sector investments from the United States in nuclear power projects in the Philippines, stressing that these projects would not be able to solve the immediate power woes and that nuclear energy is not a viable solution when compared to renewable energy resources.
Hontiveros is also proposing measures and resolutions aimed at lowering power costs for consumers, such as decreasing the recoverable rates on the cost of capital or WACC (transmission and distribution), removing VAT on system loss, optimal use of energy mix, and financing renewable energy use in the social housing sector.
“Let us do all we can to provide immediate relief to the energy needs of our kababayans. Let us remember that losing power in the middle of summer is not a joke – the livelihoods and health of our people are at stake here,” Hontiveros said.
The senator said she would support any new probe by the Senate Committee on Energy on the ongoing power woes across the country.