GATCHALIAN ASKED TO PROBE NGCP FOR GROSS FAILURE IN TYPHOON ODETTE RESPONSE

By ROGER M. BALANZA

 After a Senate committee capped its corruption probe on the Malampaya Gas Field, a consumer group has asked the Senate to investigate the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) for its failure to deliver quality, stable, secured, and affordable supply of electricity, which has adversely effected the economy.

National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Inc. (NASECORE) sought the investigation by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Committe on Energy, after the panel completed its investigation on the financial soundness and legality of a $565-million transaction with UC Malampaya and Chevron deal that transferred 45 percent stake in the Malampaya Energy project to the Udenna Group of Davao businessman Dennis Uy.

From the Gatchalian probe, the Senate submitted to the Ombudsman a resolution seeking the filing of administrative and criminal charges against Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi and other department officials, and Uy.

Gatchalian, who is seeking reelection in the May 9 election, personally transmitted the resolution to the Ombudsman together with his lawyers early this month..

In seeking a Senate probe, NASECORE specifically pointed out NGCP’s shortcomings which were magnified after Typhoon Odette struck in December.

In a letter addressed to Gatchalian, dated February 10, Nasecore president Pete Ilagan said: “We are the aggrieved witnesses to the negligence of the NGCP, whose transmission assets easily gave way to its fury, causing widespread blackouts that last for weeks if not months.”

Ilagan said the Senate must “conduct legal action into NGCP’s failure to maintain typhoon and earthquake resilient transmission towers in its area of operation and to secure firm ancillary service procurement agreements”.

The group said NGCP has been “lavished with tens of billions of funds collected from the consumers through the ERC’s (Energy Regulatory Commission) generous rate-setting process since NGCP acquired the assets of TransCo (National Transmission Corporation) in 2009”.

Because of its negligence and failure to respond effectively in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette, Ilagan said NGCP “brought suffering to tens of thousands of families and caused losses to industries, big and small, from Leyte to Surigao to Cebu and Palawan.”

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