Heavy damage on Philippine agriculture and the deteriorating power supply situation in almost all parts of the country caused by el nino may force congress to grant President Gloria Arroyo emergency power to immediately address the situation.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is poised on declaring a state of emergency in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines. The planned declaration is aimed at addressing the acute shortage of electricity and water supply in different parts of the country brought about by the el nino phenomenon.
For several weeks the country has experienced severe drought due to lack of rainfall to fill hydroelectric dams that provide water for irrigation. Aside from supplying water for agriculture, the dams also drive turbines to generate electricity for residential and commercial use.
Temperature has risen to 35 degrees during the past few days in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country causing the major dams to dry up rapidly. Millions worth of agricultural products such as rice and staple crops have been lost due to lack of water for irrigation, a situation that compelled the government to import substantial amount of rice from neighboring Asian countries.
President Arroyo's energy secretary Angelo Reyes has recommended to congress to grant president Arroyo emergency power to address the deteriorating power situation. Under Philippine law, congress may grant the president emergency powers when the country faces natural calamities.
Emergency power allows the president to appropriate and draw government funds without the normal audit procedures and paper works in order to fast track the emergency repairs or procurement of the needed equipment and supplies. Reyes went around Mindanao to assess the gravity of the power supply situation.
He reported to the President that the El Nino reduced water levels in hydroelectric power plants, triggering an energy crisis. Reyes is asking the President to invoke Section 71, or the Electric Power Crisis provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001 which provides that Congress, through joint resolution, may authorize the establishment of additional generating capacity subject to its approval, if the Chief Executive declares a power crisis.
(original article appeared @ Digital Journal