Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dark Days in My Province

A Power Forum was held last Tuesday, August 9, at the Occidental Mindoro National College (OMNC) Gymnasium in the capital town of Mamburao. While members of the Provincial Legislative Board are busy with the administrative case filed against Mayor Jose T. Villarosa of San Jose, around 200 participants composed of barangay and town officials of Abra De Ilog, Mamburao, Paluan and Sta. Cruz gathered to discuss in impending total blackout this coming 28th of this month due to fuel shortage as disclosed by the NPC-SPUG operating in the whole island. The activity was spearheaded by the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative or OMECO and it is geared towards informing the public about said power crisis situation and draw immediate solutions on the matter.

We were informed through his presentation by a Mamburao-based Serve OMECO member Rodolfo A. Plopinio that the three towns in the northern tip of the province had a long history of struggle against power shortage. In April 2002, more than 6,000 households and business establishments in the so-called MAPSA area were affected and caused economic paralysis and hardships in my province. The power blackout that engulfed the province 9 years ago was due to technical problems along the 70-kilometer transmission line because during that time, the MAPSA area is getting its power supply from NPC’s 32-megawatt Power Barge 102 based in Brgy. Balatero in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro.

As a response, Mamburao residents staged series of mass actions protesting the persistent power failure that hampers the trade and agricultural development of the area. Joined by the businessmen, people from the government and the Catholic Church, a series of activities that culminated via a prayer rally at the Mamburao Gymnasium was held first week of April that year. With such action, NPC engineer Ramon Osabel and his men were pressured and able to hurry up the repair of the said faulty and problematic transmission lines. The blackout in ’02 lasted for 7 long days.

Going back to the present crisis and the citizens’ response, there is an on-going signature campaign initiated by OMECO and its support groups to call the attention of P-Noy and immediately intervene on the matter. Manifestos from almost all walks of life are out calling on the investigation on the deep roots of fuel shortages namely in MIMAROPA and specifically in Occidental Mindoro. There are also plans of launching series of campaign activities to ultimately solve the power crisis in Occidental Mindoro both in long and short terms. According to OMECO board chair Samuel Villar, another way of temporary solving it is for OMECO to rent generator sets but it needs consultation first with the member-consumers through district assemblies for we will be additional charge on our electric bill. In short, such expenses will be passed on to consumers. But there are no final touches on this yet.

One thing is certain so far. The two political titans will both claim credits on the issue.

In this crisis that we are facing, the people cannot SOLELY depend on politicians because most of them are suffering from acute messianic complex. Our collective efforts are best needed now. Let us let them know that we already have learned our lessons and join the protests against power shortage, during times of crisis or not.

Fools never learn but let us show those credit hungry people up there that we do. But are we really?...

(Photo grabbed from Eunice Barbara C. Novio's file)

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