The strength that comes from a collective effort is multiplied by leaps and bounds especially so when issues are threshed-out vis-a-vis a free market place of ideas and where solutions are drawn after thorough examination.
Dr. Milabel Enriquez Ho welcomes such a collaborative effort with the government and private institutions as it faces new challenges in resolving the Mindanao power crisis. The Western Mindanao State University together with the National Economic Development Authority and its adjunct agency the Philippine Institute for Development Studies hosted a seminar forum to shed light on the long-standing issue of power outage in Zamboanga City last July 9, 2013. Present in the program were NEDA Regional Director Teresita Socorro Ramos, PIDS president Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto, Dr. Sheila Siar PIDS Director for Research Informaion, WMSU officials and representatives from various government and private agencies.
In her inspirational talk the Honorable Isabelle Climaco Salazar, Zamboanga City Mayor urges the community to stay vigilant of their right to be part of what is being done to address problems of electricity in the City. Stakeholders are encouraged to work closely to ensure that their interests are protected and policymakers are guided in decision making. The end consumers she stressed must be priority and “whatever obligation they shall be made to pay must be acceptable and affordable to an ordinary consumer.”
A policy paper on “increasing the baseload generating capacity in Mindanao” was presented by Dr. Adoracion Navarro, a PIDS senior research fellow validating issues most participants claimed to have been aware of for the past years. For instance, the insufficient baseload generating capacity of power plants has always been a problem in Mindanao with only 37.31% as compared to Luzon grid at 63.94% and the Visayas grid at 71.88%. There is also an unbalanced in the capacity mix in terms of power generated from the traditional technologies like hydro power plants due to drought, deforestration, river siltation and the rehabilitation of Angus and Pulangi hydropower. The lack of commitments to supply power by suppliers is another problem. Power supplies are only 38 MW in 2013 and 120 MW in 2015 indicating that supply cannot meet increasing demands. Medium and long term policy responses cited in the paper include government privatization of services to which one discussant Mr. Pedro Ruffo Soliven, President of the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce clearly opposed for reasons he claims are inequitable to end consumers. Dr. Frede Moreno, Dean of the College of Public Administration and Development Studies and Mr. Sherwin Mañada , the General Manager of the Zamboanga Electric Cooperative also contributed as discussants to the expansive discussions on top of the aggressive reactions of concerned citizens and government employees who happened to be well-versed about this issue since the Marcos administration. Dr. Ederlinda M. Fernandez WMSU vice president for planning, administration and finance facilitated the discussions.
The partnership was sealed during the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between WMSU and NEDA-PIDS during the launching of the “PIDS corner” at the University Library. The public is invited to engage in an innovative knowledge exchange in policy research online by visiting the PIDS corner and its website SERP-P (Socio-Economic Research Portal of the Philippines).