BAGUIO CITY – The National electrification Administration (NEA) disclosed that the government needs at least P40 billion to bring power to more or less 2.3 million households who are living in some 16,000 unenergized sitios in the different parts of the country.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said that the present energization rate of rural electric cooperatives and private power distribution companies is now 89.5 percent of the over 14 million households that are supposed to have ben energized over the past five deuces since the establishment of the NEA in 1969.
However, Masongsong claimed that while it is true that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is inclined to pursue the primary goal of rural electrification which is to bring power to every household in the country, the meagre funds being provided for rural electrification by the department of budget and management could result to the failure of the government to fulfil its mandate in providing quality power to every Filipino household.
For this year, the NEA proposed the amount of P5.2 billion for the implementation of the government’s rural electrification program but the same was reduced to P3.6 billion when the budget was finalized and submitted to Congress for deliberations.
Masongsong revealed that the budget for rural electrification was further reduced to P1.1 billion when it was passed by Congress but when the budget for this year was finalized, there was only P800 million that was earmarked for rural electrification which will make the realization of the rural electrification difficult to achieve.
“Rural electric cooperatives are non-stock, no profit that is why we cannot solely rely on them to fund the implementation of rural electrification projects through their own income, thus, the need for the government to help in providing the adequate funds to bring electricity to the remotest part of the country and the farthest household,” Administrator Masongsong stressed.
Of the more or less 2.3 million households who still need power in the different parts of the country, Masongsong, who was one of the guests during the recently concluded 39th Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENEC|O), stated that 1 million of them are distributed in the different parts of Mindanao.
According to him, electricity is a major component of rural development that is why former President Ferdinand Marcos embarked on an aggressive rural electrification program through the NEA in partnership with the rural electric cooperatives and private power distribution utilities for the realization of the project.
He explained that if the government will not provide sufficient funds for the government’s rural electrification program in the next several years of the Duterte administration, the overall goal of energizing all parts of the country will not be realized considering the rapid growth of sitios in different parts of the archipelago that is being triggered by the growth in population.
On the other hand, he expressed gratitude to the BENECO member-consumer-owners for supporting the bid of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA) to have a seat in Congress a party-list to represent the cause of consumers for efficient distribution of quality power to the people in the countryside.