KIDAPAWAN CITY (April 23/Monday) – Local officials here, including government employees and private individuals, will troop to the streets anytime soon to protest what they claim is the national government’s dismal attempts to resolve the power crisis besetting Mindanao.
They will call the move as the “Day of Mourning and Protest.”
City Administrator Rodolfo Cabiles Jr. said they have to meet within the week to finalize the schedule. He added that they expect thousands of power consumers in this city and from nearby towns in North Cotabato to join in the protest move.
The province is one of the hardest hit by the power crisis, according to officials of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco). The rotating blackouts daily would last eight hours: five hours during day time and three hours during night time.
The rotating blackouts daily is expected to last eight hours – five hours during the day and three hours at night.
Because of the unstable power supply for North Cotabato, the protesters will also demand from the national government that the province be given priority in the load dispatch of the two geothermal power plants located at Barangay Ilomavis here.
A provision in the Department of Energy Act of 1992 states that at least 25 percent of the power generated from a source must be dispatched to the host city, municipality, or province.
“We’re claiming what is rightfully ours. It’s our right. This is based on an existing law,” said Cabiles.
He said that a memorandum of agreement signed in early 1990s before the construction of the geothermal plants stated that a separate line should be put up directly to Cotelco.
The plants were constructed in early 1990s by the Philippine National Oil Company. The government sold the facilities to the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) of the Lopez Group of Companies as part of its privatization thrust.
Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza lamented that while a line was recently built between the plants and Cotelco, still no power is given direct to the province.
Earlier, Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista said the city government is bent on resorting to legal action if the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and other government subsidiaries continue to ignore their claim.
The EDC is again planning to put up another power plant at the 701-hectare reserve area for geothermal production at the Mount Apo.
The project, before it could push through, must have an endorsement from the city government and the Cotabato provincial government.
On April 21, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Kidapawan, led by Evangelista, held a public consultation here as to whether the local government should give EDC its needed endorsement for the construction of the Mount Apo-3 geothermal power plant.
The plant, if completed, will supply additional 50 megawatts of power for the Mindanao grid.
But Councilor Lauro Taynan, chair of the city council’s committee on power, was firm in saying they must see to it that a separate and direct line be given first to the Cotelco before the company gets an endorsement from the LGU.
“We don’t want to be fooled again. If in the past we were not given the electricity even if these plants were located in our city, this time this should not happen again,” stressed Taynan. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)