Press Release
March 8, 2010

Villar to GMA: Follow law in dealing with power crisis

The ends do not justify the means.

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar called Monday on President Arroyo to strictly follow the law in dealing with the power crisis, warning that any solution that is extralegal could trigger a public backlash.

"No matter how noble the intentions are, if that is indeed the case, it would still not justify skirting or bending the law," Villar said.

According to reports, the Palace is considering bypassing Congress in dealing with the power shortage in Mindanao, which is now experiencing rotational brownouts due to low electricity reserves.

Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA bars the government from generating additional power unless allowed by Congress through a joint resolution, but President Arroyo's legal experts believe an "aggressive" interpretation of the law would allow state utilities to generate additional capacity even without congressional approval.

Villar said the law is clear and should be interpreted as written: that the approval of Congress is needed in order to generate additional capacity.

"That provision of the law is there for a reason and in this case, I believe it is to prevent abuse by the powers-that-be. It works as a check-and-balance mechanism," he said.

"If Congress intended that President Arroyo could do that without congressional nod, then it should have stated so in unequivocal terms. But it is clear and that is what should be done."

Villar said if President Arroyo will not follow the law, then she will be courting the people's ire.

"She would be bowing out in June. She should think twice because she's risking the people's ire by disregarding provisions of the law in dealing with the energy crisis," he said.

Villar's camp has already expressed fears that the power shortage may be used to undertake massive electoral fraud this coming May, especially at a time when the elections process is being automated.

The senator said he personally experienced the rotational brownouts now gripping Mindanao after he campaigned in seven provinces and more than ten cities in the island.

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