Press Release
March 2, 2010


SURIGAO CITY - El Niño has threatened to slow down the progress of Surigao City, an otherwise fast developing trade and industry hub in the Caraga region, with four-hour daily brownouts caused by the low-water level at Maria Cristina Falls, the region's source of hydroelectric power.

"Unless the Arroyo administration does something about this, particularly the Department of Energy, the problem is expected to last until July," NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda said on Tuesday as she and running-mate Manny Villar kicked off their Mindanao campaign.

"At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I ask the Arroyo administration: Do something now," she said.

She noted that Surigao City has one of the highest population growth rates in the country, not because of a high birth rate but because a lot of enterprising people migrate to the city for its business opportunities.

"With long and frequent brownouts, those opportunities won't be so attractive," Loren said.

A day earlier, she said the electrical power crisis would not have hit the country if the current administration had not been so preoccupied with trying to hold on to political power.

"And what is the Energy secretary doing now? He's busy trying to stay in government service by running under the party-list system," Loren said. "What kind of service then, can the marginalized sector, which he purports to represent, expect of him? Isn't he the one responsible for the current crisis?"

Long before the electoral campaign started, Legarda has been warning of the damage El Niño could do to country, particularly with the drought that has now started to dry up not only the supply of food but also water, on which power generation also depends.

In recent statements, she hit at the administration for lack of political will and foresight that has made many predictable situations into what could have been preventable emergencies.

"Why is every situation for this administration an emergency?" Loren said during her campaign in the Visayas last week. She was reacting to reports that some lawmakers are considering granting the President emergency powers to combat the effects of El Niño.

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