House panels OK creation of Mindanao rail, power corporations

By , on March 7, 2017


Three panels of the House of Representatives have jointly approved measures seeking to create the Mindanao Power Corporation and the Mindanao Railways Corporation in a bid to spur economic development in the Mindanao region. (Photo: U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, Commercial Service/Facebook)
Three panels of the House of Representatives have jointly approved measures seeking to create the Mindanao Power Corporation and the Mindanao Railways Corporation in a bid to spur economic development in the Mindanao region. (Photo: U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, Commercial Service/Facebook)

MANILA—Three panels of the House of Representatives have jointly approved measures seeking to create the Mindanao Power Corporation and the Mindanao Railways Corporation in a bid to spur economic development in the Mindanao region.

In joint hearings, the House committees on Government Enterprises and Privatization, and on Energy have approved the consolidation of House Bills 122 and 357, both of which seek to create the Mindanao Power Corporation.

HB 122, authored by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, seeks the non-privatization of the Agus and Pulangui Hydropower Complexes, which bring low power rates in the Southern Philippines.

Lobregat also pushes for a viable way for government to operate and maintain these sources of cheap power.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., author of HB 357, expressed confidence the Mindanao Power Corporation will serve as the solution to the recurrent power crisis in Mindanao.

“Privatization will not happen because the people of Mindanao always oppose it. And even the President of the Republic has enunciated his favor to retain the Agus-Pulangui Complexes,” said Rodriguez.

The National Power Corporation (Napocor) and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management, Corp. (PSALM) have expressed support for the passage of the substitute bill, with the latter noting that the proposal should be consistent with the EPIRA law.

The Energy Regulatory Commission also backed the bill as it is consistent with the administration’s thrust to ensure that the marginalized-end users will benefit from the complexes.

In a separate hearing, the House committees on Government Enterprises and Privatization, and on Transportation jointly approved five measures creating the Mindanao Railways Corporation.

Transportation committee vice-chairman Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento said the proposed creation of the Mindanao Railways Corporation is included in the legislative agenda of the House this 17th Congress.

Sarmiento said that while the bill had languished in the previous congresses, he is confident that the 17th Congress will push for the construction and operation of the Mindanao railways system.

Lobregat said his HB 123 aims to “complement government projects that will address the lingering problems of poor quality of roads and incomplete road networks” in some parts of Mindanao.

The 2000-kilometer railway system is expected to connect major cities such as Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Davao, and General Santos.

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