Labor Joins National Day of Action Against Aquino’s Emergency Powers
MILITANTS belonging to labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) held an early morning protest at Mendiola Bridge to jump start the nationally coordinated Day of Action against Aquino’s Emergency Powers organized by the Power to the People Coalition.
“The emergency powers granted by Congressional panel on Energy will not even make a dent on the power crisis ordinary folk like us wage-earners are painfully bearing for the past thirteen years,” Leody de Guzman chairman of BMP fearlessly forecasted.
“Since the government has already erred in identifying the problem, whatever measures it will take borne out of the emergency powers shall miserably fail and will ultimately exacerbate and prolong the economic yoke the people have long been bearing,” he added.
De Guzman was referring to the inception of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2001 which allowed the “entry and the establishment of an oligopoly” wherein a very limited of powerful industry players are competing in the market.
Other vital provisions of EPIRA include the self-inflicted prohibition to participate in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, the deregulation of the entire power industry. It likewise directed the disposal of all the assets of the state-run NAPOCOR.
“Whether they call it a power reserve deficit or a power supply deficit does not matter much because this is not the real predicament we are facing. Whether the officials admit it or not, the crux of the matter is that, these are mere products of the broken promises of EPIRA,” the labor leader alleged.
De Guzman further explained that, “despite the declared intents of EPIRA which were the reliability, quality, security and affordability of the supply of electric power, not one of these goals has been met in the span of thirteen years of implementing an oppressive decree”.
“Besides the obvious excesses of private sector participation in the power industry, the EPIRA is also the prime culprit in the electricity price manipulations which occurred last year due to the suspiciously-timed maintenance schedules of several power plants,” he claimed.
“The clamor to repeal EPIRA is already deafening but still the government chooses to listen only to its patrons and not the heavily-burdened majority of our people,” he likewise asserted.
De Guzman likened President Noynoy Aquino, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and the Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut to the three monkeys that see, hear and speak of no evils of EPIRA, consciously acting in favor of the corporate interests of the Aboitiz, Lopez and San Miguel Corporation.
The BMP believes that electricity should be treated as a basic necessity ergo, must be one of the social services of the state to its people and not allow opportunistic companies to impose predatory electricity rates.
“Once the emergency powers of Aquino are granted, it will make ordinary consumers more susceptible to price hikes due to electricity price manipulations, collusion with corrupt officials, lopsided contracts with private entities to name a few. All these are on top of the environmental carnage the House Joint Resolution shall trigger with the suspension of environmental laws,” said another BMP leader Gie Relova.
“Not unless the government swerves away from the neo-liberal policies of deregulation and privatization which feeds the unbridled appetite for profit of power companies, the people shall eternally bleed and endure unreliable and expensive electricity rates,” Relova warned.
The militants warn that continued failure to address the institutional injustice inflicted by EPIRA upon the people will only contribute heavily to the building of critical mass not only against the market-driven EPIRA or the oligopoly but also towards Aquino’s elitist and callous regime.