(Bishop of Boac, Reynaldo G. Evangelista)
On the power outages that got more constant and longer last September, Napocor’s Engr. Danilo Barcase explained to the provincial council in a meeting held at the session hall on Sep. 30, 2009, that the situation was brought about by Napocor’s failure to repair genset unit #2, with no units available for use as back up. The power company had to seek the intervention of technicians from Daihatsu, expected to arrive on October 7, Barcase said, as the extent of the neceesary repairs was much worse than they expected.
Barcase also reported that in view of this situation and based on the recommendation of NPC Vice-President Mel Chiu, NPC president Tampinco has ordered the shipment to Marinduque of a 3 MW surplus unit from Palawan, made possible through an existing contract with Agrekko.
By this time in September, technical inspection of the plant in Bantad was already undertaken by the NPC representative who arrived in Marinduque for this purpose. This unit was expected to be shipped from Palawan on October 11, Barcase said in the same meeting.
By this time, the capacity of Napocor was effectively reduced to only 3.1 MW, or down to half the peak load requirement for Marinduque registered at 6.76 MW, power shedding in the different areas of the province had to be undertaken.
Bercase also informed the provincial council that as a result of an earlier meeting between Napocor and Marelco on Sept. 11, 2009, Chiu ordered the return of gensets much earlier pulled-out out from the province in expectation of the commercial operation of 3i Powergen. An Interim Supply Agreement with Marelco was already being drafted in relation to this, he added.
Bueno, as Marelco general manager, stated that he had recommended to the Board to look for a new power provider (other than 3i Powergen), to supply electricity in Marinduque for the next 15 years, adding that Napocor gensets are already too old.
Napocor’s Barcase reinforced this by stating that no expansion by Napocor in Marinduque has been considered by Napocor as it has been removed (“tinanggal”), from the Missionary Electrification Development Plan in view of the IPP entry. This appeared to support VP Melburgo Chiu’s advise that “NPC-SPUG’s function has been limited to the maintenance of its existing capacity, NPC’s budget does not allow any provisions for increase capacity, since any additional requirements shall have to be provided by your NPP” (NPC-SPUG letter to Marelco 9.4.09).
On the issue of rescission of the agreement with 3i Powergen, Marelco’s director Beethoven Arevalo, stated that a resolution has already been adopted by the Marelco board rescinding the contract, but based on the PSA it had to undergo an arbitration process for a period of 90 days that started on September 11, “Sa katunayan.. mayroon ng resolusyon ang Board na pinapawalang bisa ang kontrata subalit batay sa Power Supply Agreement (PSA) kailangan pang dumaan ito sa 90 araw na arbitration na nag-umpisa noong Setyembre 11.” (Arevalo, Sept. 30.09).
With respect to the NPC-SPUG letter dated Sept. 4, 2009, the first document related to the power outages that this blogger got hold of, and used as lead in attempting to unearth the riddles of this convoluted maze of a case, Marelco merely coursed the letter to 3i Powergen instead of responding to NPC-SPUG squarely. This, obviously is a matter needing decisive, urgent action and... transparency. NPC wished “to know the status of privatization of power generation in your area, and the level of energy that will be nominated to NPC for the period (2010).”
Asked during the Sept. 30 meeting why Marelco turned instead to 3i for response, considering that Marelco had variously declared before the provincial council of the coop’s assessment, to which the council also completely agreed to - that the said new power provider is no longer capable of pursuing the power generation project; that in fact Marelco has made a move to rescind the contract, Bueno responded by saying that “...up to now Marelco does not know the status of the project with 3i Powergen, as it has not presented any update...”
Then he blurted that Marelco has not yet adopted a resolution rescinding the contract. Committee chair Raza wished to be clarified: “Wala pa’ng naipasang resolution?”
Bueno: “Wala pa.”
A Burt Bacharach song goes: "The world is a circle without a beginning and nobody knows where it really ends." Circles. "Round and round in circles."
PEACEFUL MARINDUQUE STIRRED
Marinduque (population: 235,000) has often been described as the most peaceful province in the Philippines, second only to Batanes in terms of negative crime rate. While it remains the only 4th class province in the Mimaropa region, many people are extremely fascinated by the lethargic, laid-back ambience that this beautiful island-province exudes.
But there's a limit to the peace-loving people's patience. The power failures that escalated in September and early October, largely unexplained to the masa, often deliberately by the very institutions involved in the energy supply and distribution systems, and in instalments before official bodies, however, were ripe for mass action to be undertaken, and for silence to be broken.
“Basagin ang pananahimik, tuligsain, labanan ang palpak na sistema ng pamunuan ng Marelco” (“Break the silence, denounce, fight against the flawed system of the management of MARELCO!”). Angry flyers with these words were distributed in the municipalities of Boac and Gasan by Gasan residents denouncing Marelco for the “many occasions it spent belying, explaining, and passing on the responsibility and blame to others...” and the incalculable losses suffered by businessmen, by ordinary citizens, schools, government institutions and threats to health and security.
BISHOP OF BOAC IN EXHORTATION
Bishop of Boac, The Most Rev. Reynaldo G. Evangelista, then issued a Pastoral Letter on October 6, 2009, addressed to priests, nuns, lay-leaders, members of the laity and the people of the province about the need for all to speak out and assert, among others:
a. To teach a lesson to politicians who do not respond to the needs of the people; not to make the mistake of accepting money or favors during the election period in exchange for votes; to unite, stand up, and together vote for those who have compassion for the people.
b. Seek the truth behind the brown-outs that are being experienced and hold responsible all the agencies of government, politicians, and others who have caused our suffering.
c. To call on all sectors of society, NGOs, the youth, businessmen to join a peaceful rally on Monday, October 12, 2009, at 9:00am at the capitol grounds and Marelco; to wear ‘black’ symbolizing dismay to those in government who were remiss in their duties, causing the massive brown-outs.
The said letter also questioned Marelco’s claims on the cause of the power failures, such as “a). they owed a huge debt from NPC; b) there are many delnquent members/consumer; c). high cost and inadequate supply of diesel; d). huge sums of money spent for repairs/rehabilitation and maintenance of electrical lines and posts; e). system loss in the operation of Marelco.”
“But, is this really the truth behind the frequent brownouts, or are there deeper reasons that are probably being concealed from the knowledge of our people? What concrete step or solution has been undertaken by Marelco, the municipal and provincial governments on this issue?
"Whatever happened to the contract signed on September 27, 2005 among Marelco, Napocor and 3i Powergen, during the administration of then Congressman Edmundo Reyes, Jr. and former Governor Carmencita Reyes, that should have started supplying electricity in the province since February 2007?”, the letter stated in part.
Bishop Evangelista, thus, exhorted the people “to brace each other’s arms for solutions to our problems and for real change to take place in our beloved province”.
Meanwhile, the political rumormongers wasted no time selling their ridiculous wares on the island through the magic of cellphones. Obviously emanating from political enemy camp, they were directed against the incumbent governor, Jose Antonio N. Carrion, blaming him now as the cause of the power outages.
(to be continued)
NPC letter to Marelco 9.4.09.
Marelco letter to 3i Powergen 9.29.09.
Katitikan Sangguniang Panlalawigan ika-44 na Karaniwang Pulong, Agosto 11, 2008.
Transcript of records of the Committee Hearing, Committee on Public Utilities, Re: Status of power supply in the province of Marinduque, July 6, 2009, at the Damian Reyes Session Hall, Boac, Marinduque.
Katitikan Sangguniang Panlalawigan ika-83ng Karaniwang Pulong, Setyembre 30.09.
Liham Pastoral Blg. 4, Serye 2009, Diocese of Boac, Oktubre 6, 2009.
'Manifesto' from Gasan distributed on Sept. 30, 2009 at the Capitol Session Hall.
Power Supply Agreement between Marelco & 3i Powergen, Inc., 2005.
Subsidy Agreement, Napocor, Marelco & 3i Powergen, Inc. 9.27.2005.
Joint Declaration of Realization of the Effective Date of the Power Supply Agreement between 3i Powergen, Inc. and Marelco, 3.2.2006.
Phase-in Phase-out Agreement, Marelco, 3i Powergen, Inc. & Napocor, 3.9.2006.
1st Supplemental Agreement to the Power Supply Agreement and Subsidy Agreement, Marelco, 3i Powergen, Inc., Napocor, 3.9.2006.