Thursday, April 10, 2008

Arroyo dared to revoke EO on Hanjin

Arroyo dared to revoke EO on Hanjin
By Maila Ager INQUIRER.netFirst Posted 18:33:00 04/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was challenged on Wednesday by a militant lawmaker to revoke her executive order that gave power subsidies to a Korean company now under fire for its construction of two condominium buildings in Subic in the province of Zambales.

Arroyo signed Executive Order 701 in January 22 this year directing the National Transmission Commission (Transco) to give the controversial Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines a discount on transmission and generation charges for 10 years.

"If its claim that it is not giving special treatment to Hanjin is true, then we dare the government to remove the power subsidies given to the company," Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said in a statement.

For the first six years, Hontiveros said, Hanjin would be given discounted generation and transmission rates of $0.0491, and this would increase to $0.0600 for the remaining four years.

"This is a hefty discount considering the power needs of an industrial firm and compared to the P5 per kilowatt hour rate imposed on Filipino consumers to cover NPC's [National Power Commission's] charge and Transco's transmission charge," she said.

Besides, Hontiveros said these power subsidies would not only be for Hanjin's shipyard in Subic but it would also cover another shipyard, which is yet to be constructed in Mindanao.

"The cost of these subsidies would eventually be imposed on Filipino consumers in the form of power rate hikes, which are oftentimes rationalized by increasing generation and transmission costs," Hontiveros said.

"The extent of concessions given to Hanjin at the expense of labor standards, environmental protection, and revenues lost due to power subsidies," she said, also showed a "government that bends backwards for foreigners but gives its own citizen's second-class treatment."

Hontiveros then urged the President to revoke the executive, saying it is not only unfair but is also costly on the part of the government.

"It's not a question of how many millions of dollars the company is investing in the country. The principle of parity and the rule of law should be applied," she said.

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