DAVAO CITY — The privatization of the Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power complex in Mindanao has been put on hold until after a plebiscite next year on Republic Act No. 11054, or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and head of the technical working group of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee, said the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has confirmed the deferment. Earlier this month, PSALM President and Chief Executive Irene Joy B. Garcia reiterated the Energy department’s stand to defer the privatization of the Agus-Pulangi facility and focus first on its rehabilitation.
“It (PSALM) may not be privatizing Agus-Pulangi in the immediate term… the privatization may have to be determined later on because in the BOL it was stipulated in one of the provisions… [that in the event of privatization] the Bangsamoro government will have a preferential right to own the Agus-Pulangi,” Mr. Montenegro said at the Habi at Kape forum here, referring to the Bangsamoro organic law. “Therefore, PSALM can’t just unilaterally make any specific decision in terms of privatizing it without reckoning with the provision of BOL.”
Under Republic Act No. 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, all state-owned power assets, which are managed by PSALM, should be privatized.
If approved in a referendum next year, RA 11054, enacted in July, will form the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that will replace the existing ARMM.
One of the power sources of the Agus-Pulangi plants is Lake Lanao, located in Marawi City, which is part of the ARMM.
Aside from RA 11054, another factor considered is opposition to the privatization by Mindanao lawmakers and businesses. “Remember it can only be privatized by PSALM if approved by the joint congressional power commission,” Mr. Montenegro said.
In 2011, Mindanao lawmakers filed a resolution objecting to the privatization.
Mr. Montenegro said MinDA is now preparing to conduct an auction for the rehabilitation’s feasibility study.
The Department of Finance had announced that the Agus-Pulangi complex, which used to be the main power source for Mindanao, could require about $1 billion to rehabilitate. — Maya M. Padillo