INSIDE PAGE | Fernan A. Gianan:

The two Congress bets on the power issue

Last April 19-21, technical personnel of FICELCO headed by Technical Services Department head Engr. Francis Gianan traveled to Camarines Sur to meet with the technical team of CASURECO IV headed by GM Renato San Jose as well as personnel from the National Transmission Corporation (Transco) to conduct a site inspection of the proposed sub-transmission line from Presentacion town to Colongcogong, Caramoran.

They started at the CASURECO IV substation at Presentacion, the proposed take-off point of the 69KV overhead sub-transmission line that will connect to another substation at Caramoan, where the submarine power cable will be connected before it is laid on the seabed across Maqueda Channel towards San Andres town.

This is part of the P5-billion Transco project, initiated by Cong. Hector Sanchez, that will connect the Catanduanes island grid to the mainland Luzon grid.

While Transco officials, particularly its consultant, UP Prof. Rowaldo del Mundo, announced that a construction agreement would be signed between Transco and FICELCO this April, it appears that this would not happen anytime before the May 9, 2022 national and local elections.


One of the fundamental differences between Cong. Hector Sanchez and former Rep. Cesar Sarmiento is their view of how to resolve the decades-old issue of unreliable power supply in the island.

While the incumbent, who is a practicing electrical engineer, has staked his reputation and political career on the grid interconnection project or the submarine power cable to not only stabilize power supply but also provide cheaper electricity rates, lawyer Sarmiento has insisted on FICELCO pursuing its Competitive Selection Process (CSP) to attract new power suppliers.

The former solon, who spent nine years representing the island in Congress, did little in reviewing the Power Supply Agreement between the cooperative and Sunwest Water & Electric Co. (SUWECO) as well as the subsequent amendments, to check if they were beneficial to power consumer-members.

FICELCO’s years-long efforts to have the Balongbong mini-hydroelectric power plant returned to the cooperative went for naught during CS’ term and, ironically, also during the stint of Batonhon Pio Benavidez as president of the National Power Corporation.

It was the late Benavidez who was in charge when Napocor did away with the back-to-back agreement between FICELCO, Napocor and CPGI over the 3.6-megawatt Marinawa diesel power plant that served as baseload power plant of the grid.

The non-renewal of the power deal allowed SUWECO to remain as the lone power supplier of the Catanduanes grid, with most of its power coming from diesel gensets instead of the hydro power plants that are supposed to be the main source of electricity.

In his nine years in Congress, Sarmiento never asked why only two hydro power plants were built instead of the four included in the original ESA.


THE EMPIRE. Some time passes after the 2022 Philippine presidential elections, and Rodrigo Duterte passes away from old age. He gets bored after a while in purgatory and asks God if he can return to Earth for a while to see how the Philippines is turning out. God agrees.

Duterte returns to Davao, and walks into a bar, ordering a beer. He asks the barkeep “How’s the country? How are foreign affairs? Any problems currently being faced?”

“Oh, nothing at all, sir. We’re an empire now. We’re successful.”

“But what about Tawi-Tawi and Sulu? Those were terrorist hotspots not too long ago?”

“We control it now. We’re an empire. Everything is good.”

“But what about West Philippine Sea, Scarborough Shoal and the Benham Rise?”

“That too has been taken care of. We are now finally an empire.”

Pleased at the outlook of the country he once led, Duterte asks the bartender for the bill:

“65 yuan, sir”, replies the bartender.

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