By Francis Allan L. Angelo
Business organizations Western Visayas called for reliable and affordable power supply following the prolonged power interruption in the provinces of Panay and Guimaras Islands on April 27-29, 2023.
In a statement, various chapters of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) noted that the blackouts severely affected the people of Region 6.
The statement was signed by the following
-Atty. Jobert A. Peñaflorida
Regional Governor, PCCI Western Visayas
-Ms. Josefina De La Cruz
-Mr. Rani Rodriguez
-Mr. Michael Sweeney
-Mr. Brian Joseph Castañeda
-Engr. Fulbert Woo
-Mr. Roberto Montelibano
President, Metro Bacolod CCI
“Our families have suffered tremendously, especially our senior citizens and those with co-morbidities. The intense heat was excruciating with heat index rising over 40°C, which is considered as dangerous as it can potentially cause heat-related illnesses. Our business community was seriously affected as the blackout has forced many stores and companies to temporarily close shop, thus affecting not only the business owners, but our workers, as well,” the groups said.
They also rued the lack of proper information dissemination on what caused the outages.
“Aggravating the heated situation was the lack of proper information as to the real cause(s) of the sudden power interruption. The conflicting statements from the companies representing power generation, transmission and distribution left our consumers in a quandary as to the real situation.”
The group said the power blackouts occurred right after the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Economic and Development Authority announced that Western Visayas was the fastest growing economy in the country in 2022.
“It is sad to note that such a situation happened on the same day that the National Economic and Development Authority has announced that Region 6 posted the highest growth in gross national product for the First Quarter of 2023 of 9.3% among all the regions in the country.”
The outages cast a shadow over efforts of the region to recover from the effects of the pandemic which caused economies to grind to a halt.
“As the two highly-urbanized cities of Iloilo and Bacolod, and the six provinces of Western Visayas: Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Guimaras are all aggressively pursuing their best to fast track economic recovery by inviting more investments and building strong public-private partnerships, such dynamism was gloomed by the power outages that have practically affected the entire Panay and Guimaras consumers and which have lasted continuously for two consecutive days.”
The business chambers added that power outages cannot happen again in the future, especially that “Region 6 continues its aggressive efforts towards greater economic activity, reliable, consistent, and reasonably-priced power supply is a must.”
“We understand that the power outlook for the Visayas requires some closer look, especially as to the availability of electric supply. Thus, PCCI in Region 6 echoes the call of our local government and congressional officials for a meaningful dialogue with all the stakeholders. This includes the Department of Energy, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, the different power generating companies, and the power distribution companies and cooperatives, our community and civic leaders and our consumers.”
The chambers said that such a dialogue will bring clarity to the energy situation of Western Visayas.
“By bringing all the stakeholders together, we can all understand the real reasons and the major causes behind the power interruptions and altogether look further into sustainable action plans and solutions to ensure not only the prevention of such power interruptions, but, more importantly, to provide consistent, reliable and affordable power supply for the region, especially in the light of further challenges to our energy sector with the threats of the El Niño phenomenon.”
Copies of the statement were sent to Energy Sec. Raphael Lotilla, local government leaders and lawmakers and distribution utilities and electric cooperatives in Western Visayas.