Press Release
March 12, 2010



Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Senator Mar Roxas today vowed to keep tight watch on how President Arroyo disburses the calamity fund to resolve the worsening crisis on power supply in Mindanao. Roxas, a former investment banker and secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, said tight watch is required so corrupt politicians could not pocket the funds, especially during this campaign period. Under the state of calamity declared by President Arroyo, local government units can immediately use five percent of their budget, or a total of P5.5 billion, for the purchase of generator sets and utilize power barges to address the problem temporarily.

The President has a P2-billion Calamity Fund this year that can augment the funds of the LGUs if needed. Tight watch is needed on the use of these funds to prevent their misuse for election and partisan political purposes especially with the Arroyo Administration's bad record in using funds allotted for special purposes, like the P728-million fertilizer fund that was diverted for the campaign of Mrs. Arroyo in 2004, Roxas said.

He castigated the Arroyo administration for failing to prepare for the power shortage in Mindanao even if this was expected to happen long ago, particularly as experience had shown that the El Niño weather phenomenon was expected to aggravate the situation by drying up dams that supply the water for hydroelectric power plants more prevalent in Mindanao.

Roxas said an Aquino-Roxas administration will focus right away in finding permanent solutions to the power supply situation if it takes office.

A temporary but expensive solution is for the national and local governments to acquire diesel power barges, but Roxas warned it could raise power rates in Mindanao and contribute to pollution.

He lamented that the people of Mindanao have to cope with the consequences of poor planning and preparation - higher power rates, pollution and especially the expected kickbacks of corrupt politicians - because the government had no effective preparations to meet the shortage head-on. Even if a new investor comes in ready with funds to put up new power plants, it would take at least three years before these projects could be completed. Thus the people have to deal with emergency and disadvantageous solutions like the power barges, Roxas said.

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