Sen. Risa Hontiveros on February 5 raised alarm over the proposal to involve third parties in the construction of transmission projects within the energy sector.
She emphasized that such a move may only serve vested interests rather than public welfare.
The Senator issued the statement after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. instructed the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to explore the possibility of third-party involvement to expedite delayed transmission projects.
She noted that previous Senate investigations found no compelling reasons for third-party involvement and the Executive’s proposition raises further questions.
If the ERC and DOE found it hard to regulate the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, she asked if the system would improve if opened to third parties.
She also said that introducing third parties could only potentially favor certain groups, raising concerns about ties to the Maharlika Fund.
“In fact, the call for third-party developers is painful evidence of the failed privatization of the transmission sector and the NGCP experiment,” argued the Senator.
NGCP attributes the delays in transmission projects to the tedious procedures involved in acquiring right-of-way and permits. However, Hontiveros noted that despite having eminent domain rights, the NGCP, as a private business, starts acquiring the right-of-way only after regulatory approval.
This leads to late realization that approved projects face opposition from property owners, causing delays.
“The private sector’s profit-first mentality delays public service, as they prioritize returns before fulfilling their service obligations,” Hontiveros stated.
NGCP only proves that the private sector plan is limited and does not address the urgent requirements for timely power grid development, security, and reliability.
“Wouldn’t choosing another private entity repeat the same mistake? Solving one error with another is not a solution.”
Hontiveros emphasized that the government is better equipped to acquire the right-of-way, allocate funds for property ownership, and prioritize public welfare anchored on public accountability. Hence, third-party transmission developers would not effectively address the current issues with NGCP. “The modernization of our national transmission power grid is primarily anchored on public service and ensuring public welfare not business interest. Failed privatization policy in our power grid combined with very weak regulation will be a regular challenge in achieving an affordable and continuous electricity supply for every Filipino household,” Hontiveros added.