* My column in BusinessWorld last Friday, July 5th 2019.
Two weeks ago, this column argued for the President’s veto of HB 8179 or the Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. (SPSBC) franchise bill. I quoted the objection speech of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Chairman of the Committee on Energy, on why the bicameral report should not have been ratified.
Then these two reports in BusinessWorld came out last week:
- “Power group seeks veto of solar firm’s franchise” (June 28),
- “Review of Solar Para sa Bayan franchise sought” (June 28).
The first is about the statement of Philippine Independent Power Producers Association, Inc. (PIPPA) asking President Rodrigo R. Duterte to veto the bill because the SPSBC franchise “only serves to create chaos in regulation, act as a disincentive to investors, and show the public that undue advantages can be granted to people in power.”
The second is about the joint statement of six groups — the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham), the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the Makati Business Club (MBC), the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI), and the Women’s Business Council Philippines (WBCP) — calling for the “Economic Cluster of the Cabinet [to] review this franchise bill prior to any executive action.”
Amen. Good, direct and frank positions.
The Philippines is until today still a laggard in energy infrastructure and capacity compared to its neighbors. Our primary energy use, including oil consumption for transportation (land, sea, air), is even lower than Singapore which has just 5.7 million people but attracts some 15 million foreign visitors and investors (see table). It is not wise to give a special privilege to just one company simply because it projects itself as a greenie solar firm.
Solar para sa Bayan Corp. is a Solar Para sa Politika project. President Duterte should veto it in its entirety. If he signs it into a law, it will be a precedent for many other cronyist bills to be filed in the next three years. Goodbye further to rule of law in the country.