Remarks by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on the Western Visayas blackout

Event Western Visayas Blackout

Sa ating mga kaibigan sa Western Visayas, Panay Island na tinamaan nitong island-wide blackout mula noong January 2 pa. While power has been restored, the situation has caused significant hardship to our people, crippling businesses, compromising livelihoods, and endangering those in need of healthcare. Napakalaki ang nagiging lugi ng lahat ng mga negosyo sa Panay Island area, sa coverage area ng mga naging brownout.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, NGCP, had a crucial two-hour window to prevent the system collapse, as highlighted by the Independent Market Electricity Operator of the Philippines or IMEOP. Regrettably, during this period, NGCP failed to resort to manual load dropping resulting in the crisis that we are facing now.

This is not the first time that such a blackout has occurred. In April of 2023, a similar incident happened in Panay, prompting an examination of NGCP’s performance. It revealed the importance of completing the Panay-Negros-Cebu interconnection by August of 2023.

The NGCP assured us that the Visayas Grid had sufficient capacity, assuming timely completion of the Mindanao-Visayas and Panay-Negros-Cebu interconnections. However, we find ourselves in January 2024, far from the promised completion date of August 2023, and we are still, still hoping for the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection by late January of 2024.

Accountability lies with the NGCP. They are tasked with grid stability. Stability involves proactive responses to breakdowns and unexpected events, a duty that NGCP unfortunately has not fulfilled adequately.

We recognize the contribution of distribution utilities and electric cooperatives for attending to the critical needs for power in the hospitals and the emergency facilities.

NGCP’s failure to act during the crucial two-hour window is a missed opportunity. As the systems operator, NGCP must proactively engage with distribution utilities and cooperatives to manage loads and prevent such system collapses.

I wish to reiterate our call that I made last year, for NGCP to be transparent to its stakeholders, utilities, and regulators, to acknowledge its responsibility and be transparent in identifying weaknesses in transmission systems. They must identify and address these issues as they are crucial for a resilient and stable power infrastructure.

In this regard, I have also directed the ERC to complete the reset of NGCP’s rates without further delay, to ensure NGCP’s compliance with its statutory and regulatory obligations, and to defend in no uncertain terms against any attempt to defer, delay, or prevent the implementation of regulatory measures.

We will work diligently to ultimately resolve this situation and prevent such crises in the future. Our commitment is to the well-being and prosperity of every Filipino.

— END —