organizations, envi groups welcome Ombudsman ERC commissioners
December 21, 2017
QUEZON CITY –
Peoples’ organizations and environmental groups lauded the recently
issued Ombudsman order to suspend virtually all Energy Regulatory
Commission (ERC) commissioners for having given unwarranted benefit
to Meralco in their suspension of the competitive selection process
(CPS), a power supply procurement scheme requiring public bidding
instead of a negotiated procurement.
According to Sanlakas
Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, the order validates peoples
groups and environmental advocates’ claims that the power supply
agreements (PSAs) filed by coal-sourced energy giant Meralco and
admitted by the ERC are a form of ‘sweetheart’ deals meant to favor
corporate interest over public good.
“The Ombudsman suspension
order bolsters the truth that only collusion between the government
and corporations could have allowed for such anti-consumer and
anti-environment agreements to prevail,” said Pedrosa.
“This suspension order
should serve as a warning to the ERC to seriously review the
petition against the deals, which was filed in intervention by
concerned community leaders and peoples’ groups only to be junked by
ERC chambers,” he continued.
Diocese of Lucena’s Desk
on Environmental Concern Priest-In-Charge Father Warren Puno
concurred with Pedrosa, especially in light of the Quezon
community’s struggle against coal-fired power plants.
“Ang desisyon ng Ombudsman
na suspendihin ang lahat ng commissioner ay malinaw na basehan na
totoo nga na may sabwatan ang MGen at ERC,” said Father Warren.
“Isang babala ito sa mga
uupong commissioners at sa kasalukuyang Chairman na wag nilang
madaliin ang pag-aproba sa Power Supply Agreement na hinihingi ng
Meralco. Ito ay dapat dumaan sa tamang proseso. Sila ay mga lingkod
bayan at dapat ang bibigyan nila ng pagkiling ay ang taong bayan –
lalo na ang mahihirap. Hinihiling namin sa ERC na ibasura na ang
kasunduang ito dahil nagdesisyon na ang Ombudsman na ito ay
maanomalya. Bagamat isang maagang papasko para sa mga mamayan ng
Quezon ang suspension order, hindi pa rin kami titigil hanggang
hindi tuluyang maiwaksi ang pagtatayo ng coal-fired power plant sa
aming komunidad. Patuloy kaming magbabantay sa mga susunod nilang
desisyon,” he concluded.
Center for Energy,
Ecology, and Development (CEED) Executive Director Gerry Arances
described Meralco’s collusion with the ERC as conclusive proof of
the growing obsoletion of “dirty, deadly, and costly” coal-sourced
energy in the country.
Arances claimed that all
the contested PSAs compel the expansion of coal-fired power plants
and result to the “locking in” of the country to coal, which has
been decried by vast numbers of coal-affected communities and
environmental advocates as severely destructive to people’s health
and livelihood, to the country’s economy, and to the welfare of an
increasingly warming planet.
“While coal is fast losing
its environmental and economic viability, cleaner and cheaper
alternatives provided by renewable energy are on the rise – and
giant coal corporations are well aware of this,” said Arances.
“For instance, coal
oligarchs like Meralco’s Pangilinans and Semirara Mining and Power
Corporation’s (SMPC) Consunjis are being surfaced lately for their
hand in preventing governmental regulations over the
long-uncontested industry of coal,” continued Arances.
He cited the swift
deletion of the TRAIN bill provision on an excise tax on local coal
done outside of formal deliberation in Congress, a move which has
been claimed to be lobbied for by Consunji-led SMPC.
“This exposed collusion
between ERC officials and Meralco prove that coal is still prevalent
in our country – not because the people need it, but because
corporate interest wills it,” Pedrosa added.
According to Pedrosa, the
Philippine coal industry continuing, unbridled expansion would lead
to more deaths and destroyed livelihoods as the effects of fossil
fuel induced climate change worsen over time.
He claimed that further,
assertive action must be done to combat the forceful push for coal
by the few.
“It would be a shame to
let our people continue to suffer at the hands of the few proponents
of coal, especially with better alternatives right within our
reach,” concluded Pedrosa.