Sugary SRA; Feeble DoE

The problem with some department secretaries is the lack of initiative.

As it was in the past, it is always the easy path of importation when supply diminishes and that is true for food as well as energy.

The recent fiasco where an official of the Sugar Regulatory Administration took the convenient path of simply approving the importation of 3,000 metric tons of sugar is just one example. The official learned his lesson from previous Department of Agriculture swivel chair executives who merely took the usual easy route of importing nearly every item on our dining table.

Importation was more of an opportunity for some than just a temporary solution. One of the reasons why President Ferdinand ”Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. took the helm of the Agriculture Department is the infectious virus of inefficiency and the utter lack of initiatives that paralyzed the entire bureaucracy that was to ensure food security.

The irrigation systems in Mindanao are mostly projects of Apo Marcos. The only additional projects is Malmar in Carmen and Pikit North Cotabato started by the late President Fidel V. Ramos and finished by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and another in Catiil, Davao Oriental.

Sadly, these systems lack maintenance and were left to the elements after Apo Marcos was shanghaied to America.

The same could be said of the Department of Energy. In the entire six years of the Duterte government, I have not heard of the DoE adding a kilowatt of energy to what had already been there. Most of the renewable energy projects in Mindanao were still projects of the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr. What were added later were coal-fired power plants and floating generators and a thermal plant somewhere in Mt. Apo.

Pulangi IV Hydroelectric Plant in Bukidnon which was commissioned in 1982 no longer delivers the amount of energy it generates simply on account of siltation and the loss of forest cover around the lake.

There were firms that offered to de-silt the lake and the river for free in exchange for running the power plant for an x number of years but nothing happened. Now I heard the DoE is asking for 19 billion to do exactly the same job.

Pulangi river can still be tapped for a couple of hydropower plants but everyone “wants to have a slice of the cake”. Still, there are rivers in Mindanao that can be tapped for hydropower, irrigation, and even potable water. Good example is Saug River in Davao del Norte. The deterrent in many of these prospects are politicians of various colors and ideologies.

But let’s see what the new DoE top guns can offer this time. Let us see if they — have the energy and the gumption to develop the potential of our natural resources.

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