Labor leader Leody de Guzman, Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential candidate, stressed the need for renewable energy sources to create much needed green jobs and affordable energy.
De Guzman, at a press conference at the Negros Press Club in Bacolod City on Wednesday, November 24, said because of COVID-19, workers across Negros and the Philippines today are heavily burdened not only by limited or lost livelihood, but also increasing costs of basic necessities.
“As we seek to move forward from this crisis towards a new normal where workers and ordinary Filipinos are far more empowered, part and parcel of our recovery plans should be tapping renewable energy sources that can create much needed green jobs and supply affordable and reliable electricity in the long-term,” he said.
De Guzman joined a march of clean energy advocates and representatives of labor, youth, and consumer groups in Bacolod Wednesday to decry current policies and systems in the power sector that promote destructive and costly energy while failing to protect the interests of consumers and ordinary Filipinos, Griderick Alila, Konsyumer Negros coordinator, said.
The groups, led by Konsyumer Negros, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Sanlakas, and think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), said it is high time to scrutinize how the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) has shaped the power sector, and to put forward energy development directions that will empower end-users while advancing sustainability and affordability of electricity, he said.
“Two decades of EPIRA brought us nowhere near its promise of healthy competition among private players and least-cost electricity for consumers. Instead, we find ourselves struggling to pay bills while having little to no say in processes that determine the kind and cost of electricity we get, which today is increasingly expensive and largely taken from dirty energy sources like coal and gas that cause suffering to communities while also destroying the climate and environment,” Alila said.
“We will not stand idly by when we know far better alternatives in the form of renewables can be made available to us,” he added.
The march was followed by a People’s Power Assembly, which featured the launch of a five-point agenda on democratizing the energy and power industry, overhauling the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), taking action for climate and displacing fossil fuels, transitioning to renewables for a green recovery and a more sustainable future, and ensuring access to affordable electricity for all, Alila said.
There is a need to bring down electricity rates in order to make it affordable and accessible. There must be awareness that for electricity access to be affordable and reliable in the long term, renewable energy must be established as the primary source of electricity across the country, the five-point agenda stated.
“A clear goal that we advocates of energy democracy and people-centered development must unite in is to raise the national ambition for RE development to at least 50 percent by 2030”, it added.*