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    Posted January 14, 2014 by

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    Emergency powers for Aquino proposed

    SENATOR Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV on Tuesday filed a bill granting emergency powers to Philippine Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III in view of the threat of rotating blackouts aired by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) this coming summer.
    Meralco is the country's biggest power distribution utility, which filed a pleading recently with the Supreme Court, seeking power rate adjustments.
    "With the powers granted under this Bill, it is expected that the President would be able to address the looming energy crisis, if not immediately, at least on the short and medium term," Trillanes explained.
    Under Senate Bill No. 2051, President Aquino shall be granted the power to enter into negotiated contracts for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement and/or maintenance of power plants, projects and facilities whenever necessary for the national welfare and in the public interest.
    "Out of the abundance of caution, this measure expressly prohibits the government from granting sovereign guarantees for the payment of obligations incurred by the Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
    Trillanes also clarified that the measure also proscribes the inclusion of onerous “take or pay” contracts or similar provisions which appeared to have been abused in the past.
    In an apparent bid to stem rotating blackouts in Luzon, the bill likewise empowers the President to compel IPPs to sell power to distribution utilities like Meralco as well as power distribution cooperatives.
    “This is to fix the rate of return of the IPPs on their rate base to a reasonable rate not to exceed twelve percent per annum,” Triallanes pointed out.
    He said the President shall also be empowered under this bill to authorize the use of all available funds as well as Special Funds, including the Malampaya Fund, to finance the maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement of energy infrastructure in preparation for and/or in response to natural and man-made calamities, as well as to finance subsidy for energy consumption by end users in case of market failure.
    "Through this bill, the President would be in a better position to protect consumers, who are already reeling not only from the recent calamities but also from seemingly endless actual and/or threatened increases in the cost of petroleum products, LPG, water, transport fare as well as in the premium contributions imposed by the Social Security System and PhilHealth," Trillanes concluded.
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