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Sandro Marcos pushes for NGCP franchise review after Panay power outage

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House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Sandro Marcos on Monday called for a review of the franchise of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) following last week’s massive power outage in Western Visayas.

Marcos made the call under his House Resolution 1534 seeking congressional inquiry on the said power outage.

“There is a compelling need for Congress to conduct an investigation with the end in view of revisiting and reviewing the franchise of the NGCP,” the son of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said. 

According to the younger Marcos, the review should include the possible separation and transfer of the systems operation function from the NGCP to another entity, “which could carry out such function more efficiently.”
 
He also said the inquiry will ensure “timely expansion of the transmission system in line with the development needs of the people and for its effective and efficient operation.”

“In pursuit of the common good and in line with its constitutional mandate to conduct investigations in aid of legislation, it behooves Congress to put in place energy security to ensure our country’s development. There is a need to review the imposition of the special tax on the NGCP, as power concessionaire, in lieu of all other national and local taxes,” Marcos pointed out.

‘Risky investment area’

In an interview with reporters on Friday, January 5, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said suggestions on amending the company’s congressional franchise “would really cement the reputation of the Philippines as a very risky investment area.”

“You have a private investment like NGCP that came into a contract, it was bid out by government… in an open competitive public bidding and yet in the middle of the franchise period, there is a move to amend this,” Alabanza said.

“In terms of whether it is ideal… in our opinion… it won’t be efficient if the systems operations would be separated because it is essential in running the transmission system. The physical aspect — maintenance, and operation of the transmission grid— as well as the trafficking and management of power that flows in that physical asset should not be separated,” she added.

Nevertheless, Alabanza said the NGCP welcomed moves to review the company’s franchise and was ready to face inquiry in both the House and Senate.

The Western Visayas blackout covered the entire Panay Island, including hundreds of schools in Panay, Guimaras and Negros which already prompted local authorities to suspend face-to-face classes and resulted in losses to businesses.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) earlier said the power supply in Panay Island was restored on January 5. 

Marcos, in his resolution, said the House probe should also explore the feasibility of granting the ERC the authority to impose administrative penalties on the transmission concessionaire to the tune of P2 million per day if found in  violation or non-compliance with regulatory rules.

He said violations committed should cost at least 1% of the cost of the delayed project based on the ERC-approved project cost, whichever is higher. —KBK, GMA Integrated News

Read more, click here: GMA News

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