From the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Filipino consumers will just have to live with rising fuel and electricity prices, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
“Juan de la Cruz and no one else” should be paying more for their electric consumption and petroleum purchases, Enrile said in an interview with dzBB radio on Sunday.
“There’s nothing you can do about it. Who will pay (for higher power rates), the Lord? We should experience hardships to learn,” the senator said.
Enrile lashed out at those peddling “theories” and warning of an impending revolt, taking unnamed critics to task for spreading “speculations” and “blabbering, engaging in debates and finger-pointing.”
“We should face the problem head-on, shunning useless talk. We should do our job… All of us should sacrifice for the country, and not just think of ourselves,” he said.
Malacañang should not be blamed for its inability to forestall the power crisis in Mindanao, the senator said.
“It is too late to blame anyone in and outside of government for the rotating brown-outs in Mindanao,” he said.
He even branded as “foolishness” the bills now pending in Congress seeking to grant emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino III, or reducing the value-added tax on fuel.
“We don’t need that—that’s foolishness. They talk of emergency powers, what can the President do (with them)? He has too many powers. He’s the Chief Executive of the country. He can borrow money, negotiate contracts, he can deal with other countries to solve (the power problems),” said Enrile.
Enrile believes the Philippines erred in refusing to tap nuclear power as an alternative source of electricity.
“We don’t want nuclear power, we are afraid to die (from nuclear accidents). We thought we will live forever—that’s not the case. Other countries are prospering because they took a chance at using nuclear power, we (aren’t) because we have (this) backward thinking,” he said.
“We have to take a chance in life. We can’t be 100 percent safe. There’s always a margin of risk in life,” he said.
The first Aquino administration in 1986 mothballed the Marcos-era Bataan Nuclear Power Plant over safety concerns and because the contract for it was attended by corruption. But the government did not provide for alternative power sources to replace what the BNPP would have produced, which was a direct cause of the dreadful Luzon power crisis in the 1990s.
To remedy the situation in Mindanao, Enrile said he supported the government decision to deploy mobile power barges while the Agus and Napindan dams, the main sources of hydroelectric power in the island, are being fixed.
“(We should) find other sources of hydropower in Mindanao and if necessary put up coal-fired power plants,” he said.
“We’ll have to do it. There’s no other way unless we use our trees for fuel,” he said.