By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The Senate is open to conduct an investigation to ensure accountability for the ongoing power outage that continues to impact the residents of Panay Island.
An “incensed and dismayed” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the current situation of the Western Visayas residents is no longer tolerable, urging the Department of Energy and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to urgently address the issue.
“We will not stand idly by while our fellow Filipinos suffer due to the negligence and lack of urgency in addressing this power crisis. Kung kailangan imbestigahan natin ito, gagawin natin para malutas ang puno’t dulo ng problema,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Zubiri stressed that constant power interruptions have “dire and far-reaching consequences on the lives of citizens,” businesses, livelihoods, and the delivery of basic services to the people.
“The DOE and the NGCP must understand the gravity of this situation and act decisively to resolve the situation. They should get their acts together immediately,” he said.
The senator further demanded transparency from the DOE and NGCP on the root causes of these outages and a comprehensive plan of action to resolve them.
“Both the DOE and the NGCP need to get to the bottom of these deeply disruptive outages and ensure that power is restored to every household and establishment in Panay Island, Negros Island, and Guimaras as soon as possible,” Zubiri added.
“They should get their acts together immediately. We demand transparency in identifying the root causes of these outages and a comprehensive plan of action to resolve them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe also concurred that someone has to be held liable for the recent Panay blackout.
She added that the 3-day blackout in April last year that hit Panay should have been an eye-opener for the NGCP and power utilities to prepare for system disturbances.
“They should have been better prepared for any system disturbance and avert such with efficient planning and utilization of resources,” the senator added.
For Senator Raffy Tulfo, chair of the Senate energy panel, he will also seek a probe on the power outage.
“Bilang Chairperson ng Senate Committee on Energy, lubos na ikinababahala ni Sen. Idol Raffy Tulfo ang kalbaryong dinaranas ng mga residente ng Panay na apektado ang pamumuhay ngayong bagong taon dahil sa power outage roon,” the senator’s office said in a statement.
The senator assured the public that he is closely coordinating with the NGCP, DOE, National Electrification Administration (NEA), and other energy regulating bodies to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
Estrada said the severity of the power shortage in Panay Island cannot be overstated.
“The absence of electricity not only affects households but also cripples businesses, hospitals, and other crucial services that depend on a reliable power source,” he added.
The senator has urged NGCP and power plants in the Panay grid not to let the blackout extend for another day.
There is no exact date and time yet on when the power will be fully restored in Panay, but it is expected to be resolved as soon as the Panay grid synchronizes with the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) in Concepcion, Iloilo.
Albin Kintanar, vice president for the operation of PCPC, told Daily Guardian that they are already in the process of starting up their plant and it is expected to be online tonight.
“Currently, yung technical deficiency namin na address na namin and we are already in the process of starting up the power plant. We expect the unit to be synchronized or online between 10 p.m. or 12 a.m. today (January 4). We are also hoping and praying na medyo ma advance pa namin,” he said.
“Coming from a shutdown, kapag nag start up kami usually may mga hitches na lumalabas,” he added.
The PCPC can generate a load capacity of 135 megawatts (MW).
As of 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Panay power plants currently serve a total load of 253.7 MW, which is augmented by 36.2 MW from other sources in Visayas.