Duterte warns power firms: Shape up or I’ll let foreigners in
DAVAO CITY—Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte warned local power companies he would open the market to foreign firms to bring cheap and stable power supply to the country if the local utilities didn’t shape up and deliver better services to consumers.
“I told you before, sdhape up,” Duterte said in a late-night press conference Thursday, addressing power utilities.
“Because if you don’t and the public will suffer, if (the supply problem) remains unaddressed, I’ll invite all foreign investors, including those from Nigeria and Mexico (to come in),” he said.
Duterte said he would ask foreign investors if they would be interested in building power plants in the country.
“I will let them come here,” he said.
Duterte said he would keep power facilities owned by the government in the hands of the government.
Among these are the Agus hydropower plants in the two Lanao provinces and Pulangi hydropower facility in Bukidnon province.
Duterte said plans to privatize these government facilities “should not be applied yet at this time” because private power firms cannot even provide a sufficient supply of electricity.
He castigated private energy companies and told them to improve their services.
Earlier, Duterte said he was amenable to the idea of amending the Constitution to remove the restriction on foreign ownership of companies in the Philippines.
He said he wanted to make foreign investors comfortable in the country.
The Constitution limits foreign ownership of companies to 40 percent.
Duterte said opening the country’s power sector to foreign investors would be more beneficial to consumers than selling government-owned power assets.
He said more players meant more stable and cheaper electricity.
The Aquino administration planned to sell Agus and Pulangui to private investors in accordance with a provision in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, but it was met with opposition from several sectors in Mindanao, including electric cooperatives.
Since 2009, the Private Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) has sold over a dozen power plants owned by the government with total combined capacity of 4,569 megawatts to the private sector.
These included the Angat, Amlan, Magat and Ambuklao-Binga hydroelectric power plants. The government made over $3.5 billion from their sale.
Psalm said the privatization of other facilities, like Pulangi and Agus, was needed to raise capital./rga