Fake power crisis in Mindanao

7 April 2012

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It is not true that there is a power crisis in Mindanao, said Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Mindanao. He said that the blackouts or daily four- to eight-hour power outages are nothing but a grandiose show to deceive the people and force them to accept the privatization of power plants and the construction of coal-fired power plants that would allegedly solve the crisis. The US-Aquino regime is in cahoots with local compradors led by Henry Sy in making the fake power crisis seem real.

The current power plants on the island are capable of producing enough electricity for all of Mindanao's regions. The power plants are purposely not being operated at full capacity to create an artificial power shortage. For instance, the Agus 2 plant in Lanao del Sur has a generating capacity of 180 megawatts (MW) but is being made to produce up to 90 MW only. The same is true of the Agus 5 to 7 plants in Iligan City which are being made to produce only 200 MW instead of their generating capacity of up to 309 MW. These plants already produce 70% of the island's overall needs. Add to this the huge geothermal plant in Mt. Apo which is also one of the sources of electricity for the island's north.

The people are also purposely being deprived of electricity because the ruling classes in the island prioritize the big foreign companies. Companies such as Tag-anito, SMI-Xstrata, Toronto Ventures Inc., Nestle Phils., Phil. Sinter Corp.-Kawasaki Plant, plantations and factories of Dole and Del Monte, Holcim Cement and many others siphon off and monopolize electrical power.

In the 1990s, the US-Ramos regime used the energy crisis as a pretext to give private companies free rein to put up power plants that would address the electric power shortage. In Mindanao, the Alcantara, Dominguez and Aboitiz families exploited the situation to expand their power generation enterprises in the last two decades. Now, Henry Sy is using the same scheme to slowly buy out private and government-owned power plants and monopolize control over the island's energy sector. Since the energy sector is deregulated, Sy can raise power rates whenever he wants after he gains possession of the island's power plants.

The monopolization of the island's energy sector will further raise power rates and cause more suffering to the people of Mindanao. At present, power rates are already high due to profit-hungry independent power producers and the imposition of the Value-Added Tax.

Worse, the US-Aquino regime will be using this crisis to build more coal-fired power plants in the island in addition to those already operating in Sarangani and Misamis Oriental. The technology used in coal-fired plants has long been declared obsolete and is in fact no longer used in the US and Europe. Coal-fired plants also cause major damage to the environment and the health of the people living around the plants. This is contrary to the people's demand for affordable and environmentally friendly energy sources.

In the face of all this, the National Democratic Front in Mindanao has called on the people to expose and assail the fake power crisis that is causing them grave hardships. They must fight this scheme and resist widespread foreign mining, logging and commercial plantations that have wrought havoc on the island's economy and environment.