By Ali G. Macabalang
Organized power consumers have urged the Bangsamoro autonomous officialdom and other government authorities in Mindanao to oppose a planned privatization of the Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complexes (APHC) in what was described as another attempt by business oligarchs for control of the industry in the guise of public welfare betterment.
The Lanao Power Consumers Federation (LAPOCOF), which has initiated the dissenting campaign, was hoping that the leadership of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) led by Chairman Manny Piñol, and local government units in Mindanao will come up with position papers that should be taken up with President Duterte.
The LAPOCOF also urged individual consumers to form groups and rally the opposition against the privatization of APHC, an option left open under R.A. 9136, more known as Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.
David Tauli, LAPOCOF vice president for Northern Mindanao, said his group has initiated the campaign through a resolution appealing to the Department of Energy (DoE), Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. and the National Power Corporation (NPC) to scrap the privatization plan for the welfare of consumers.
Tauli, a senior alumnus of the Marawi City main campus of the Mindanao State University (MSU), conveyed part of his group’s resolution to the Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) news that presented reasons for their resentment.
The LAPOCOF resolution quoted a provision in the EPIRA, which states that “the privatization of Agus and Pulangui complexes shall be left to the discretion of PSALM Corp. in consultation with Congress.”
It said the DoE issued a Department Order in December 2020 designating the members of the “National Government Technical Working Group on the Privatization of the Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex.”
It pointed out that “the generation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex (APHC) is the lowest-cost power supply in Mindanao,” hinting that profit-oriented private companies would manipulate increases in the power rates.
The resolution cited the privatization of the Mt. Apo geothermal power plant in 2015, in which the rates of the MAGPP were “unilaterally increased by the PSALM from 2.85 pesos per kWh to 5.18 pesos per kWh.”
The LAPOCOF asserted that the APHC should remain “owned and controlled by the government until it can be privatized without any increase in the price of generation and without changing existing contracts for power supply.”
Initially putting up supportive efforts to the LAPOCOF drive, resident-power consumers believed that the MinDA can lead other concerned LGUs and groups in presenting omnibus resentment to the planned APHC privatization move.
They said officials in BARMM, which covers Lake Lanao being the source of Agus hydroelectric plants, have moral and legal authorities to object to the “sinister” move.
“The proper time to sound off strong objections (to the privatization plan) is now. Tomorrow may be too late,” an official from the MSU system said.
Other academicians and academic experts pointed out that “once the APHC became a private entity, the strength of efforts by the BARMM, MinDA and other concerned entities will be dismal and futile.”
Under its Charter (R.A. 11054), the BARMM government is entitled to a “co-management” authority with the national government over the development and utilization of Lake Lanao in its aspect as a power generation source. AGM
(Attached are online-generated photos of Lake Lanao map and the Pulangi IV Power Plant in Bukidnon. – Ed)