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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

HIGH POWER RATE BUCK STOPS WITH DOE SECRETARY AND PSALM PRESIDENT

Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP) Representative Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza today challenged the leadership of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) to categorically confirm or deny whether they would withdraw the PSALM petitions pending with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to recover “stranded costs” which would raise power rates by 39 centavos per kWh.

“PSALM made commitments to the House Committee on Energy that PSALM would withdraw these rate increase petitions. I want Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras and President Emmanuel R. Ledesma, Jr. to categorically either answer “yes” or “no”, on whether they will withdraw these petitions,” explained Rep. Mendoza.

Secretary Almendras had said that the matter of withdrawing the rate increase petitions lay with the JCPC because the JCPC has oversight over the proper implementation of the EPIRA. The TUCP solon expressed “incomprehension, bewilderment, and incredulity” with the “lame, intellectuallly bankrupt, mentally addled and morally snivelling excuses” of DOE Secretary Almendras and PSALM President Ledesma in seeking to now pass on responsibility for the demanded withdrawal of the pending rate increase petitions to the Joint Congressional Power Commission(JCPC).

“We have news for Messrs. Almendras and Ledesma. The buck stops with you when the issue is high power rates. It is PSALM that is still claiming US $15.8 billion in stranded costs notwithstanding the sale of 92% of the assets of the National Power Corporation (NPC) from whose proceeds PSALM should have already wiped out any stranded cost. It is the PSALM which filed a rate increase to recover this amount from all consumers as a 39 centavo per kWh rate increase. It is PSALM which can withdraw these petitions. So if these two gentlemen cannot stand the heat they should either resign or request the President to relieve them,” said Mendoza.

TUCP had earlier accused PSALM of bad faith in failing to comply with its representations to the House Committee on Energy. “Almendras and Ledesma are back-peddaling and are hair-splitting in a disgusting attempt to try to pass on the buck and evade command responsibility,” said Mendoza. Members of the Committee are mulling on whether or not to cite officials of PSALM for contempt.

“Instead of being the handmaidens of the “business-as-usual” philosophy, both the DOE Secretary and PSALM President should have drawn their inspiration from the “Matuwid na Daan” of the President to question many of the dealings of PSALM between 2001 and 2011 that properly should not be treated as stranded costs,” added Mendoza. “If these involved overpriced contracts or purchases, improper transactions and outright graft and corruption in the PSALM in the last two administrations, then people should be made accountable and sent to jail. PSALM was and is actually running the NPC. The new leadership could have cleaned up the stables. Instead PSALM continues to milk the cow,” explained Mendoza.

“The behavior of Sec. Almendras bears further comment in the matter of the upcoming termination of the IPPA contracts this December which had provided the special economic zones with discounted power rates. His answer apparently is that discounts will no longer be the norm and the industries will be free to source their electricity from higher-priced sources. Presumably this also means that these industries are also free to pack up and leave the country. Almendras cavalierly forgets that 230,000 Filipino workers and their respective families depend on these ecozones,” explained Mendoza.

“TUCP condemns the high-handed arrogance of an unfeeling energy technocracy that says we should leave the fate of the ecozones which face a rate increase to the vagaries of the market, but when the issue involves maintaining or lowering tariffs, oh we should refer that to the JCPC. This double standard is absolute rubbish,” said the TUCP solon. Louisivi Oliva, Media Relations Officer , Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP Party-List)

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