Tag Archives: rotating brownouts

Mindanao power crisis: Crime spike tied to brownouts

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Police are seeing a link between the power shortage that is gripping this city and other parts of Mindanao and a spike in the number of crimes in areas plagued by outages that last up to more than seven hours a day.

In this city alone, Senior Supt. Vicente Danao Jr., city police chief, said the number of crimes that police have recorded has increased by 45 percent, or nearly half, in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year.

The city and other parts of Mindanao started to be plagued by brownouts in March as a result of a shortage in electricity that was made worse by the reduced output of two hydropower facilities—Angus and Pulangi—that supply 60 percent of Mindanao’s power.

Danao said by March, when the outages started being more frequent and longer, police started to record at least 58 crimes a day up from the 32 crimes reported daily in the same period last year.

He said in the first three months of the year alone, 4,000 crimes have been committed mostly against persons and property.

Danao said he believed the rotating brownouts are to blame for the spike in crimes.

For instance, he said, the outages are rendering CCTV cameras, which help in crime prevention and investigation, useless.

“Zero visibility,” said Danao. “You cannot see in the dark even if you have a generator,” he added.

He said police had to resort to extra effort, like increased visibility, to fill the gap that anticrime measures being crippled by the outages have left.

“I myself go on patrol,” said Danao.

Col. Casiano Monilla, head of the anticrime Task Force Davao, said soldiers, too, have been deployed to strategic areas in the city to help police fight crime amid the brownouts.

He said 17 members of the task force are to roam the city aboard motorcycles as a crime prevention measure.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the city government plans to hire at least 1,000 watchmen to help law enforcers keep peace and order.

Each watchman would be paid P6,000 per month and get training on peacekeeping, said Duterte. They may also be issued firearms, he said.

“We have to give them more police power,” said the mayor.

In Cotabato City, police and military authorities said they were also bracing for a surge in criminality, particularly kidnappings, because of the outages.

“This is a united effort to quell lawlessness and terrorism that may occur at night while we are experiencing brownouts,” said Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division.

Hermoso said Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Cotabato City police chief, agreed to conduct weekly meetings on the anticrime campaign to keep authorities updated.

Ramil Masukat, head of the Radio Emergency Communication Network (Recon), an anticrime watchdog, said his group would help authorities fight crime in Cotabato City.

Recon members are armed with VHF radios that they can use to report crimes, he said.

The outages are also disrupting the ongoing registration of new voters in Kidapawan City, which is being plagued by up to six hours of brownouts daily.

Diosdado Javier, Kidapawan election officer, said the outages are slowing the processing of voter applications.

Javier said his office has requested for a generator from the Commission on Elections main office in Manila but there has been no response yet.

Reports from Allan Nawal, Williamor Magbanua, Charlie Señase and Eldie Aguirre, Inquirer Mindanao

Stable power supply seen as Lake Lanao water level goes up

Goldstar Daily
Mike Banos
September 17, 2010
SHORT of assuring the public there would not be a repeat of the brownouts that devastated Mindanao last summer, the National Power Corp. (Napocor) said Lake Lanao would attain its ideal water level soon, assuring a steady supply of electricity in the next year’s dry months.

“The water level at Lake Lanao has now reached 700.89 meters and we believe it would attain the ideal level target of 701.10 meters by year end, given present trends in the weather,” said Engr. Jerese Irese Lagapa, department manager of Napocor’s Operations and Dispatch Department which controls the dispatch of electricity from the various power plants of the Mindanao power grid.

Responding to questions regarding last summer’s power crisis at the Mindanao Power Crisis Forum hosted Sept. 16 by Xavier University, Lagapa also dispelled persistent reports that the power crisis which hit Mindanao was deliberate and man-made.

“We have shifted from the previous minimum thermal mode of operation to using the operational rule curve since 2004,” Lagapa said.

She said the water level of Lake Lanao for the last quarter of 2009 was very low due to the onset of the El Niño phenomenon and a confluence of other factors, but not because it was deliberately depleted by Napocor personnel.

The questions regarding the water level at Lake Lanao arose following a presentation by Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) executive vice president and chief operations officer Jovy Batiquin on the controversial Ancillary Services Power Agreement (Aspa) between TMI and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

Batiquin said the two power barges acquired by TMI from Napocor had been put “in the garage, with engine running and driver ready to go” but had not been dispatched by NGCP despite the occurrence of a power deficiency in the Mindanao grid earlier this week.

Rotating brownouts again hit Southern Mindanao earlier this week following the scheduled commissioning of the Maramag-Kibawe 138-kilovolt transmission line by the NGCP and a call for voluntary load curtailment in Cotabato province, fuelling fears that a “scenario” was being deliberately played out in Mindanao to pave the way for a price increase in generation and transmission tariffs.

Both Napocor and NGCP have pending applications for rate hikes with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

‘Information Crisis’

Participants in the open forum appealed to Napocor and the energy department to be more transparent in updating the public especially consumers about the latest power situation in Mindanao to avoid needless speculations.

Meanwhile, Xavier University president Jose Ramon Villarin said the “real crisis” is on “information”.