MANILA, Philippines – The Senate committee on energy will hold its first hearing on proposals to grant President Benigno Aquino III additional powers to address the looming power crisis on Thursday, September 25.
“My first hearing is tomorrow morning. I will conduct technical working group meetings during the break,” Senator Sergio Osmeña III, committee chairman, told Rappler on Wednesday night.
The agenda: To deliberate the enactment of a Joint Resolution authorizing the President to establish additional generating capacity in accordance with Section 71 of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira) in reference to Aquino’s September 12 letter to Congress leaders, seeking the immediate enactment of the same.
The committee hearing was inserted in the Senate calendar following two Senate resolutions filed on Wednesday, September 24, directing the Senate committee on energy to probe the power situation in the Philippines. This is to guide the senators on how they will respond to Malacañang’s request for additional powers.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla had earlier urged Congress to grant Aquino additional powers before the end of September.
Osmeña filed Senate Resolution No. 933 directing his committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to determine government options to alleviate a power shortage in 2015.
Senate President Franklin Drilon filed Senate Resolution No. 934 which directs the same comittee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, “on the need to establish additional generating capacity to ensure the energy requirements of the country, in accordance with Section 71 of Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.”
In an emergency situation, Section 71 of the Epira allows the President powers to establish additional generating capacity.
The law reads: “Upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.”
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have been hesitant to give the President the full extent of powers under the Epira and are instead eyeing limited and well-defined powers for the Chief Executive. – Rappler.com