Press Release
August 16, 2019

Win transcript | ANC Early Edition interview on Murang Kuryente Act and Decongestion of EDSA

Murang Kuryente Act

Q: Let's talk about the cheaper power rates in the Philippines that you sponsored and is now a law. How soon will the consumers feel the benefit of this law?

SEN WIN: First and foremost, I want to thank Senator Recto for submitting this proposal and now, it became a law. The concept of this is everytime we get our electricity bill, there is a universal charge that is being charged to us and that charge is being used to pay off loans. The concept now is, the Malampaya funds which the government earns every year will be used to pay off those loans. In effect, the universal charges that are charged to the consumers will be removed and instead, the funds from Malampaya will be used to pay for the universal charges. We give the DOF and the DOE to come up with an IRR so that it will immediately be implemented and the consumers will feel the reduction and the avoidance of future universal charges.

Q: So most likely, when will the consumers experience lower rates?

SEN WIN: It will be seen probably on the 4th quarter of this year, October or November but the deadline is 90 days.

Expected savings

Q: How much reduction are we expecting here?

SEN WIN: Currently, we are being charged about nine centavos in universal charges and in the future, it will go up to 90 centavos in the next six years. The bill now will remove that nine centavos and avoid that increase of 90 centavos in the next years.

Q: Now in terms of concrete savings, how much are we talking about here?

SEN WIN: In a nutshell, we'll be saving up to 90 centavos per kilowatt hour. So for an ordinary consumer consuming about 200 kilowatt every month, he will save approximately about 172.00 to about 190.00 per month so that's good for about 4-5 kilos of rice for an ordinary family. This is actually huge savings for an ordinary family.

Q: Why the Malampaya fund?

SEN WIN: The Malampaya fund, originally, is going to be used for oil exploration and development. However, the fund is not so big in terms of exploration and development. It will cost about a hundred dollars just to explore one well and the probability of hitting oil and gas is about 20%. So instead of using the Malampaya fund to drill wells and drilling wells is a very complex and a very huge task, we decided to use the funds to save consumers on their electricity bills. This is actually the first law that will help the consumers save on their electricity bills, the fund is intact, we will not use the entire fund because the government continuously earn from this fund. We will just use the amount that will cover the loans.

Usage of the Malampaya fund and NAPOCOR's debt

Q: Would there be no any legal complications on that matter?

SEN WIN: The original intention of the Malampaya fund is to use it for exploration and development. But with this law, we expanded the use to cover the loans that were being incurred by NAPOCOR in the past and being charged to the consumers now. The law is also very specific, after paying those loans, we will go back to the law which is oil exploration and development.

Q: How long before we pay off the entire loan?

SEN WIN: Right now, the outstanding loan that the consumers are paying is about 450 billion pesos and it is staggered over the next six years so the concept here is, since the loans will mature in the next six years in different times, at the point of maturity, the Malampaya funds will be used to cover those loans.

Q: Will those be enough to cover the loans?

SEN WIN: In the past, PSALM has already sold some power plants and some assets and they are now being paid for some assets. In effect, they have cash flows coming in, they are also selling some other assets as required in their mandate. So, the cash flow coming in, plus future sales will be enough to cover the loans of 450 billion.

Q: So we're expecting after six years, things will be settled?

SEN WIN: Correct, but the loans itself can be settled even earlier depending on the cash flow but in effect, these will not be passed on to the consumers anymore because right now, to pay off those loans, we are being charged up to 90 centavos in the next six years and those proceeds from the consumers are the one being used to pay off the loans.

Why consumers are paying for the universal charges

Q: Why in the first place, we are paying for the universal charge?

SEN WIN: In the past, probably 30-40 years ago, there was only one power company and it was NAPOCOR, it is owned by the government. It was both the generator, the transmission company as well as the distribution company. When the industry was deregulated 20 years ago, assets of NAPOCOR were sold off to different private companies, the generation assets to different private companies, the transmission assets were sold to NGCP, and the distribution assets sold to different electric coops and private companies. What happened now is the loans remained with the government and the consumers are now paying for those loans. We've been paying for those loans for the past 20 years. And because of the cash flow of the government, those loans are not being paid on time and the application to charge to consumers are not also being approved on time. In effect, there are existing loans but because of the delay of regulatory approval, we are also incurring interests which are being passed on to the consumers.

Decongestion of EDSA

Q: In one hearing conducted by the Senate earlier this week, you told the MMDA that you were giving them A for effort and D for preparation. What were you saying there?

SEN WIN: MMDA's job is a very difficult one. When I was a mayor for nine years, we were tackling these problems of traffic for a very long time. I've seen so many proposals in color coding, bus lanes, bus routes but all of these seems to be palliative so I have an illustration that I want to show everyone. This is actually an illustration that speaks a thousand words. Mass transportation is a must. We have to improve our mass transpo--these are the LRTs and buses. As you can see, to transport 60 people, it takes one bus to transport 60 people but to transport 60 cars, it takes the whole street to move those cars. In effect, mass transportation is the solution, but we have to also couple it with policies. For example, we have to remove obstruction from our streets which are parked cars that's why we are pushing for that No Garage, No Car policy so that our streets will be cleared and of course, motorists can use our streets.

Central terminal

Q: The proposal that you are talking about is very logical, we were talking about expanding the mass transport system in Metro Manila and making it more efficient but let's talk about the proposal of MMDA. Do you think, they are focusing too much on the wrong proposal here because we were talking about banning provincial buses and keeping the city buses in two lane yellow lane along EDSA?

SEN WIN: I think the central terminal makes sense for me. I've seen this in other jurisdiction. I've seen this is Malaysia, in the US--if you wanna go outside of the metropolitan area, you go to a central bus terminal and everything is there. But the most important here is making sure that the roll out plan and the preparation is completely well-strategized and well-planned. We are changing the habits of commuters, we are changing how they commute in the Metropolitan area. Because of that, we have to make sure that the roll out plan of these central terminals and the location of this central terminals are well-though of because it is very difficult to convince people to change your habits if the plan doesn't work and the preparation is not well-thought of. That's why it is very important that the planning and the roll out plan are well-thought of.

Q: So do you think this is well-thought of? We are talking here about terminals, one of course is in Valenzuela?

SEN WIN: Well, if you look at the terminals in Valenzuela, the terminal was conceived for a local multi-intermodal facility meaning it can only serve a hundred tricycles, a hundred jeepneys and buses all at the same time but they designated Valenzuela as the northern central terminal that will receive 1,500 buses, so obviously the capacity is not there that's why we we're telling MMDA that the concept makes sense but the preparation needs a lot of rethinking because just by the Valenzuela example alone, it seems that capacity is not enough to accept that 1,500 buses coming from the north, the same manner in the South wherein Sta. Rosa was designated as the interim bus station and again the capacity there is not enough to receive all of those buses coming from the south. So, in short, the concept makes sense, the concept can work, but we need to make sure that the prep and the roll-out is completely, almost perfect so the commuters will not be hampered when they use this new concept and habit wills slowly change to the new concept.

Huge volume of private cars

Q: So, what do you think with the plan of the government with addressing the huge volume of private cars which are also along EDSA?

SEN WIN: One of the things that Singapore mastered in terms of mass transportation is encouraging the private sector to take their subways and their mass transportation and that is they key, the illustration I showed earlier, if you transport 60 people you'll need 60 cars versus just one bus to transport 60 people. So the key here is to reduce the volume of private vehicles on the road through encouraging the private sector to take the mass transportation. So how are we going to encourage them? Number one, we should make sure that it's be convenient, number two it should be predictable; meaning it should leave and arrive on time and every single day, and number three, usage of modern technology (through cashless base system). Right now, in many many jurisdictions, when you take public transportation it's already cashless, you can use your cellphone to pay for that and that's also part of the very convenient experience, in other words, mass transportation is not only building the hardware but building a good experience for the car owners so the private sector will leave their cars at home, take the mass transportation and use that in their daily commuting.

Q: How confident are you that that particular vision be realized?

SEN WIN: Actually I was studying abroad I didn't have a car, for five years I was taking the mass transportation and my experience there its very convenient and predictable, pag aalis siya ng 10 at sabi dadating ng 10:30, it will happen that way, you don't arrive late or harassed to your destination and that should the case, the experience should be almost perfect when you take this mass transportation, that's not happening here in our country, we see a lot of pictures of long lines in the MRT, we see a lot of commuters fighting and docking for a position in the MRT, we see a lot of stories of cramming just to get into the MRT or the mass transportation--that should change, I think government should focus on the experience of our commuters, meaning we need to increase capacity, improve the riding experience, use technology, as simple as utilizing a cashless payment can dramatically change the commuting experience of the public. And the key here again, we have to encourage the private sector to leave their cars if government can now assure the public that you will arrive in your destination on time, safe and convenient, I would leave my car, I will take the mass transportation to the Senate or to any destination.

Emergency Powers

Q: How about emergency powers? No concrete proposal on how to actualize the powers?

SEN WIN: Actually, what the Senators are versed with in terms of the emergency powers, it's really the lack of detail and the lack of study in terms of the positive effects of the emergency powers. I'll give you a very specific example, we we're asking if you give emergency powers and you buy coaches for our train system, how much traffic will be reduced on the road? How much commuters will increase in terms of using those mass transportation? When we give you emergency powers, how will this affect the franchises of the public transportation? How will you rationalize the franchises of this public transportation? in effect reducing traffic on the road, these are very important questions to ask and its very important questions to answer because at the end of the day, emergency powers are super powers that will be given to a specific department to improve the situation on the road but we need to see exactly what will happen on the road and what are the positive effects because part or the emergency powers are also reducing the time frame in terms of procurement meaning we will now eliminate bidding, the department can now buy whatever they need in terms of equipment but we also need to know what exactly will change when you buy those equipment without bidding, what are the positive effect on the road and how will it alleviate traffic?

Q: Did you clarity it with DOTR?

SEN WIN: Well apparently, these emergency powers were asked three years ago and in effect there was a three year time gap and MRT is still the same, I've seen recent pictures of the peak hours in the MRT and the lines were kilometric and the obvious solution there is just to buy the trains just to increase capacity and I think the three year window is already enough to conduct a honest to goodness bidding to increase capacity. Again what we are looking for is the positive effect of those emergency powers and a detailed study, a scientific study on those positive effects and how we will reach those positive effects.

Q: Should the government be given emergency powers to address the traffic problem in Metro Manila?

SEN WIN: the traffic situation here in our city is becoming worse and worse, in fact now, we are thinking of radical solutions, one of which is the no garage, no car policy, the other proposal that I made is to move the seat of Capital to Clark by 2030 and these are radical solutions because the problem is becoming really worse by the day and JICA estimated that by 2030 we will be losing about 5 billion pesos a day in terms of opportunities, so we need radical solutions. The emergency powers can be a solution but we also need to make sure that we understand the positive effect of this radical solution and this radical proposal, the emergency powers and we also need to see concrete studies and scientific studies on how these powers will be used in order to achieve reduction in traffic and positive effects to the commuters.

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