Sen. Koko Pimentel: rehabilitate, not privateize Agus and Pulangui hydro plants

TANDAG CITY  (MindaNews/28 April) –  Government should rehabilitate instead of sell the Agus and Pulangui hydroelectric power plants, since it will be “more beneficial to every one of us in Mindanao,” Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel said.

Pimentel told the Liga nga mga Barangay-Surigao del Sur chapter here last Friday that privatizing the power industry will not make Mindanao “investor friendly” but with lower power rates for Mindanao, this will actually translate to more locators.”

“Lower power rates will actually be a plus factor to attract more locators for Mindanao,” he said.

Pimentel also said the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) should be repealed or amended because it has not benefited the people since its approval ten years ago.

Pimentel, who assumed his post barely a year after a long electoral protest, said the better solution to the power crisis in Mindanao is “to amend or repeal the law.”

He called on the “immediate intervention” of the national government in solving the Mindanao power crisis, citing reports that the power shortage problem is “artificial.”

He said it is likely that the ongoing power outages is contrived in order for Mindanawons  to capitulate on the national government’s position to privatize the Agus and Pulangi hydro power plants.

But Pimentel said “we didn’t soften our stand, instead we remained with our position not to privatize the plants.”

During the Mindanao Power Summit held in Davao recently, President Benigno Aquino III told stakeholders Mindanawons will have to accept higher electricity rates or suffer from lack of power supply. The pronouncement resulted in a public outcry.

But Pimentel  said the President has reconsidered his position and is willing to talk with Mindanao stakeholders.

Meanwhile, Pimentel told local reporters the Mindanao power crisis will be one of the platforms of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) which he describes as a newly-formed alliance “not of oppositionists but nationalists” for the upcoming national elections.

UNA, which is a coalition of the Partido ng Laban Pilipino (PDP-Laban) of which Pimentel sits as chair, and Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former Pres. Joseph Estrada, will push for the rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi hydro power plants, he said.  (Vanessa L. Almeda/MindaNews)