Dark ages: 13 million Pinoys still living without electricity

Despite efforts by rural electric cooperatives and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to bring power to remote areas, Rep. Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman said the government’s rural electrification program has not reached 19,000 barangays nationwide. Ernie Penaredondo/File

More than two million families consisting of 13 million Filipinos remain literally in the dark as they are still without electricity, the head of the Party-list Coalition in the House of Representatives said yesterday.

Despite efforts by rural electric cooperatives and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to bring power to remote areas, Rep. Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman said the government’s rural electrification program has not reached 19,000 barangays nationwide.

He said the P5 billion allocated for the program in the last three years had not been enough to electrify the remaining unserved communities, forcing Filipinos in the countryside to make do without electricity.

These families continue to use kerosene, paper or wood for their lighting needs, he said.

Romero proposed the allocation of at least P25 billion for the program to serve the 19,000 communities still without power.

“On average, each community will need P1.3 million to P1.5 million,” he said.

He also proposed that the NEA be given more autonomy “to do its job, issue and enforce rules, supervise and punish inefficient cooperatives, revoke franchises, generate its own funds, among other powers.”

He said he is confident that given enough budget and authority, the NEA and electric cooperatives would be able to “accomplish their mission of electrifying all communities, including the remotest barangays.”

Meanwhile, Romero denied that members of his Party-list Coalition are joining other political parties.

“The coalition is very solid and intact. There is no truth or basis that any of our 54 members is leaving, or more so any exodus happening. The party-list bloc is happy and grateful to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for giving its members several positions in the House and its committees,” he said.

Cayetano has given three deputy speakerships and several committee chairman and vice chairman positions to the Romero group. Romero himself has not accepted any post yet.

With 54 members, the party-list bloc is the second largest political group in the House after the ruling PDP-Laban.

“We are very satisfied with the way Speaker Cayetano has taken care of our members,” Romero said.

The House will continue organizing its committees next week and is expected to give assignments to more party-list representatives.— Source: Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star)

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