Palag-Mindanao holds anti-Epira protests

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/08 June) — The Power Alternative Agenda in Mindanao (Palag-Mindanao Inc.) is holding simultaneous protests in several cities in Mindanao today against power interruptions and high electricity rates.

Palag has blamed Mindanao’s power woes on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 8, 2001 and which provides for the privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydropower complexes.

“The continuing power curtailment and high electricity rates that the Mindanaons suffered after its implementation is a valid proof that Epira failed,” the group said in a statement timed for the 12th anniversary of the law.

Fr. Danilo Paciente, Palag vice president for Central Mindanao, told MindaNews that over the years they have held on to their position to oppose the privatization of the Agus and Pulangi power complexes.

“We call for the repeal of the Epira. Since its enactment, the Epira has not done anything to lower electricity rates,” Palag said.

“Instead,” it added, “it has removed the ownership, management and control of government as it allowed the privatization of the government’s power assets to private corporations whose only intention in acquiring such properties is allegedly profit.”

“The government should promote renewable energy,” Paciente said

The group noted that Department of Energy Circular 2012-004, which compelled the electric cooperatives to enter into power supply contracts with Therma Marine Incorporated has resulted in higher electricity bills.

Palag, however, said most regions in the island still suffered long blackouts until May this year despite the measure.

The group has scheduled cluster rallies in Davao City for the Southern Mindanao area, in General Santos City, in Iligan City for the Northern Mindanao area, in Ozamis and Pagadian cities for the Western Mindanao area, and Valencia City in Central Mindanao.

Paciente said the rallies will carry the theme “Brownout ug mahal nga kuryente: Kontra kalamboan, Kontra konsumante” (Brownouts and Expensive Power: Anti-development, Anti-consumers).

In Bukidnon, the group will assemble in Valencia City and move to Maramag for a press conference.

Palag said its members come from civil society groups, religious sector, academe and local government units, among others. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)