By MART D. SAMBALUD
DAVAO CITY — Advocates in Lanao del Sur blasted the proposed privatization of Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants in Mindanao by 2017.
“The privatization plan lacks proper consultation and approval from the people of Lanao del Sur,” says Drieza A. Lininding, convenor of Ranaw Movement.
Lininding said “For decades, the excessive utilization of Lake Lanao has destroyed the livelihood of the people living near the lake.”
Lininding added that the government is yet to comply the environmental issues raised in a resolution issued by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) last June 2014.
In the said resolution, it exhorted the government to “take urgent action to address the environmental problems reported because of non-compliance of the environmental standards in Lake Lanao which had caused serious environmental repercussions on people’s health, economic and social conditions.”
Resolution No. 2/41-MM was discussed during the 41st Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (Session of Exploring Areas for Islamic Cooperation-) held in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, last June 18-19.
Despite opposition from Ranaw movement and other groups, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), a government owned-corporation, announced earlier that it will push through the privatization of the state-owned power asset Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants come 2017.
Having a capacity of 982 megawatts, it will supply beyond the 50 % of the total power requirement in Mindanao, PSALM said.
But for Lininding, pushing through with the privatization will only open the floodgates to unabated power rate hikes once it will be under the control of private firms.
“Once it will be operationalized, we fear also that power rates will soar up since it will be controlled by private corporations. We don’t see any reason why the government should surrender that to a private entity,” says Lininding.
She said that Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants are the government’s “performing assets” considered to be a source of cheap and renewable form of enegy.
“The risk and destruction posed by the dams along Agus-Pulangi plants should be revisited and addressed sooner. What the government must do is to rehabilitate these plants,” Lininding insists.