Zubiri dares DOE execs to spend week with him in unenergized areas
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday urged energy officials to stay in unenergized areas so that they can personally see how difficult it would be to live without electricity.
During the Senate finance subcommittee hearing on the proposed 2020 budget of the Department of Energy (DOE), Zubiri questioned the agency’s housing electrification program.
“I noticed that Mindanao has the lowest in terms of electrification…which is disturbing for me and we know that Mindanao has the highest incidence of insurgency as well. Those hand in hand, when the barangay and sitios [are] unenergized they’re living in abject poverty and darkness,” the senator pointed out.
“Obviously those who have malicious minds will go to that particular location and indoctrinate these people that government is not helping them for obvious reasons,” he said.
Zubiri suggested that officials from the DOE join him in a weeklong immersion in areas that have yet to be reached by the government’s electrification program.
“Maybe we should subject all of us, maybe we should have an immersion all of us here. One week, do’n tayo…sa purok na walang ilaw, sama-sama tayo, I’ll join you guys para we will know how difficult it is to live without electricity no refrigerator,” he said.
“I am concerned about that, unless we have a roll out plan, I am in question of this particular budget,” he added, referring to the P500 million budget for the DOE’s electrification program.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, however, admitted that the P500-million fund would not be enough to reach the electrification requirement of P25 billion.
“This P500 million is not even enough to really fund the required electrification. So to come up with this master plan we have required all the cooperatives to submit their master plan on energizing their franchise area and that is an area that we are collating,” Cusi said.
“This 500 million is outside of the project that is being implemented by the cooperatives, these are in the remote areas in the island provinces and these are really that are not reached by the cooperatives so we provide them the stand alone system like a home solar system,” he added. /muf
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