Press Release
February 18, 2010


PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday urged the government to employ electric power barges to solve the shortage of electricity that is causing blackouts in many parts of Mindanao and the Visayas.

In a radio interview here, Enrile noted that the shortage in electric power in the provinces and cities in the two regions are due to drought that is caused by the El Niño phenomenon. As a result, he said, hydroelectric power plants lack water to run their turbines that produce electricity.

"The solution is for the government to deploy generator or power barges in the areas affected by the power shortage," said Enrile. He explained that while the cost of electricity may temporarily increase because of the high cost of diesel fuel compared to hydroelectric power, the cost would go do down at the onset of the rainy season where there would be sufficient water for the dams of the hydroelectric power plants.

Enrile, who is running for reelection under the Pwersa ng Masa party, also pressed for his proposals lowering the cost of electricity by reverting to the old system where a franchise tax is required of distribution utilities from their distribution income in lieu of all local and national taxes to free the consumers from shouldering additional pass on charges. He deplored that his bill amending the EPIRA (Electric Power Reform Act) was still pending before the House of Representatives.

According to Enrile, his Power Reduction Bill, which provides for the lowering of the cost of natural gas from the Malampaya plant through the reduction of government share in the royalties of indigenous energy resources , was also held up at the House of Representatives.

Enrile also commented that the Senate investigation on the irregularities of telecommunications companies resulted to beneficial returns for cell phone users. The expiration period for prepaid loans had been extended and the cost for voice calls had been reduced upon order of the National Telecommunications Commission.

Enrile added that the cell phone companies have also stopped the practice of arbitrarily cutting down the periods for prepaid loads, hence, cases of "disappearing loads" have been corrected. At present, no additional charges are imposed on calls which have been interrupted temporarily and later on resumed by the caller.

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