From The Chairperson
2014-03-04 | National Consultation on ER 1-94 and UC-EC | Welcome Message
Event: National Consultation on ER 1-94, as Amended, and UC-EC
Date: March 4, 2014 (Day 2 of 2)
Venue: Sequoia Hotel, Quezon City
To our esteemed guests who have just arrived to join us on this second day of the National Consultation on ER 1-94 and UC-EC: Welcome and thank you for taking the time to be with us today; a day which – as you all will see as the proceedings unfold – will prove to be very important.
Meanwhile, profuse thanks are in order for those who have joined us since yesterday. Thank you for your invaluable contributions in our policy review and critiquing workshop. Thank you, more importantly, for your passion and concern for protecting our watershed resources, as well as for empowering our indigenous peoples’ communities.
This consultation was put together with the aim of developing the discourse that will promote more holistic, inclusive, and efficient sustainability mechanisms in light of existing national policy on energy resources – the provisions within the EPIRA law in particular. Together, we are pushing for an improved perspective on the administration of benefits and revenues-sharing. We are pushing for a more sustainable outlook for our watersheds and our indigenous fellowmen and women who maintain and protect them. This is because, as we have established yesterday, watersheds shelter the lives of upstream and dowstream communities and fuel the growth of our nation; that most watersheds with healthy forests are within ancestral domains, and are traditionally managed by indigenous communities. Their responsible stewardship of natural resources helps maintain the ecological stability of watersheds.
As indigenous peoples protect our water and hydro power source in a sustainable manner, should they not also benefit as host communities like the local governments, as mandated in the now debated electric power industry reform act of 2001 otherwise known as EPIRA?
Needless to say, the IP communities have remained vulnerable from conflicting government policies, strict competition, and discrimination from entities who do not believe in the tribes’ skills and indigenous knowledge in conservation.
So while the amendment of the EPIRA is being backed by concerned groups and sectors to for example, “strengthen the market power of the electric cooperatives”, “develop an overall-plan on where power plants should be…”, and “abolition of wholesale electricity spot market for its alleged failure to lower power cost,” among other recommendations; FPE, on the other hand is supporting the amendment to benefit the real stewards of our watersheds and ensure that this source of water and energy is seriously protected and holistically managed.
Having all of you here today, as well as yesterday, is therefore truly an encouraging sight to witness. It is overwhelming to see such a show of support for this advocacy: all of us coming together over these two days to discuss, deliberate, and debate the means by which we can promote such impactful change.
As a result, today we mark a milestone in this unique and meaningful pursuit of multi-faceted social change. Through the policy proposals that we have, in unity, refined and finalized – and are today turning over to our partners in the government, with support from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – we are addressing multiple pressing issues in one fell swoop. Together, we will be addressing not only the much sought-after changes in the EPIRA law (currently already a hot topic in its own right) but also the long-term welfare of both our natural watershed resources and our indigenous countrymen.
What we have accomplished is no small feat – and so congratulations are due among all of us here – but let us not forget that what lies ahead is an even larger endeavor: one that requires even more efforts towards collaboration and vigilance within our respective capacities.
As we hand over our policy proposals to our partners in government, let us remember that we are taking what may as well be just the first step in an even greater journey. We are glad to have you join us in taking this initial step. May we invite you to join us along the rest of the way and be our allies and champions!
Thank you and congratulations, everyone.