Manila: The Philippine Senate will investigate allegations that big business groups that are involved in power generation and distribution are creating an artificial energy supply shortage.
A Manila Standard Today report said the Senate Committee on Energy will hold a legislative enquiry into the allegations after Senator Francis Escudero filed Senate Resolution 753 urging the upper house to look into the "true power situation" in Mindanao.
Escudero said getting down to the bottom of the power problem in Mindanao was "a matter of significant concern because its impact may impair the economic soundness and competitiveness of Mindanao as an investment hub".
Mindanao had been suffering from daily two- to four-hour power outages in recent weeks, disrupting business as well as daily life in the region.
North Cotabato Governor Emilou Talino-Mendoza said on Tuesday she was finding it difficult to explain to her people why they were experiencing blackouts when the province was host to the Mount Apo Geothermal Power Plant.
She claimed that the Aquino administration wants Mindanao to submit to their plan to privatise the hydrothermal power plants and to accept power barges from big business that charges exorbitant fees of 14 pesos (Dh1.20) a per kilowatt hour. "The [Malacañang] Palace, the Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission are not doing anything, while our people cannot do anything because they are helpless because they have nothing to do and are helpless about the blackouts that hit us everyday," Talino-Mendoza said.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which has been blamed for the daily power outages, said that the power shortage was due to "lack of power supply generated by plants".
The Department of Energy earlier blamed electric power cooperatives for the energy supply problem after they decided not to purchase the necessary capacities within their respective concession areas.
"Just because this is not happening in the metropolis [Metro Manila] does not mean this problem is not important. One-fourth of our population lives in Mindanao. Immediate intervention must be given to this persisting problem given the already volatile peace problem in Mindanao. The only way to avert and finally solve the peace problem is by improving the state of development of the people and their livelihood," Escudero said.