Aquino: Gov’t just being ‘prudent’ in emergency powers bid
Aquino: Gov’t just being ‘prudent’ in emergency powers bid
President Benigno Aquino III asks Senator Sergio Osmena III to be ready with an explanation once the country experiences a power crisis in early 2015, due to the Senate's reluctance to grant him emergency powers

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III said that the government is just being “prudent” in seeking emergency powers to avert an imminent power crisis in early 2015.

The President was responding to the observation of Senator Sergio Osmeña III that the Chief Executive had been misled by his advisers to believe that there will be an imminent power crisis in early 2015 if he is not granted emergency powers to address it.

“Senator Serge, with all due respect, is saying all of these things and he has prevailed upon some of his colleagues, and we don’t have the emergency powers up to today,” Aquino said in a media interview in Busan, South Korea, on Friday night, December 12.

The Senate does not feel the need to grant special powers to  Aquino despite the passage of a joint resolution in the House of Representatives.

Osmeña, chair of the Senate committee on energy, sees no need for it, and is confident that the government can get the cooperation of the private sector to obtain additional power of up to 1,600 megawatts – much more than what the Department of Energy (DOE) is asking for.

‘I hope he’s right’

Aquino said, however, that he hopes Osmeña is right all along because if not, the economy and the flow of investments into the country would be adversely affected.

“I am hoping – and in all honesty – I hope he is right that he had the perfect solution from the get-go, that we really don’t need it and we don’t have a problem. But having said that, I am worried that if do get a problem, do we have the wherewithal to tackle the problem?” he said.

Aquino cited the latest credit rating upgrade obtained by the Philippines from Moody’s Investor Service which “encourages again more investors” who “will be needing power regardless of the investment.” 

A power supply shortage, however, would likely reverse the upgrade.

“It would be unfortunate to waste the momentum that we have built up. Let’s not risk it,” the President said.

He said the critical period begins in March, which is only 3 months away, while the time needed to set up the facilities is 6 months.

“If we have a shortage, I hope he (Osmeña) would volunteer to respond why this happened,” Aquino said.

He likened himself to a boxer, and Osmeña to his “manager” who had ordered him to fight with both arms and legs tied, in reference to the senator’s refusal to grant him emergency powers.

“When I go into the ring and I get knocked out by the first swing, my manager would have to answer to that,” Aquino said.

The President said, however, that in the absence of the joint resolution, the government would pursue the interruptible load program (ILP), though this is voluntary on the part of private sector participants. – 

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