Let there be light through DAP
For many years, residents living in houses on stilts in the remote villages of Sabang Adgawan in La Paz town and Sabang Gibong in Talacogon town have been groping in the dark.
Not anymore as electricity already reached over a thousand households in these two villages within the Agusan marshland.
They were the first batch of beneficiaries of the Barangay Line Enhancement Program (BLEP) and Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) implemented this year by Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (Aselco) and funded from a controversial source described as a form of pork barrel in Malacañang.
It took Aselco linemen three months to establish the line connections to the two marshland villages amid the difficulty of transporting the electrical materials and the setting up of electric posts in the middle of ponds.
“We are turning the impossible into reality,” said Joel Jumonong, president of the Aselco board of directors.
Putting up the lines in Sabang Gibong required the meticulous work of placing wire cables around each electrical post to stabilize it.
The two villages are among 40 in the province that Aselco provided with solar energy but residents enjoy only eight hours of power supply every night.
Junel Ryan Denolo, Aselco spokesperson, said the cooperative was bent on the full electrification of all the villages, relying on off-grid solar energy.
Aselco seeks to bring power to at least three far-flung villages in Esperanza town and 105 sub-villages by the end of this year. They will compose the second batch of BLEP and SEP recipients. Village chiefs and sub-village leaders of these communities signed a commitment agreement in simple rites at the Aselco main office recently.
At least 12 villages and 57 sub-villages composed the first batch of beneficiaries of the electrification programs, considered a pet project of President Aquino that he funded through the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
In the last two years, at least 6,192 household connections were completed by Aselco.
This year, Aselco seeks to bring power to at least 1,454 households in highland communities with a budget allocation of P41 million. A total of P103 million was released for SEP while P49.6 million for BLEP.
“Despite difficulties, this electrification program will continue without letup,” said Aselco general manager Emmanuel Galarse.
The National Electification Administration subsidy did not only cover electric line connections, but also house wiring connections. It also made it easier for households to pay their bills.
Galarse said aside from bringing power to the villages of houses on stilts, Aselco also wanted to bring electricity to the highlands, which are accessible only on foot or by motorcycles.
Line construction in a remote village in Bayugan City, ironically called Mahayag (bright), was put on hold early this year after New People’s Army rebels demanded revolutionary taxes from Aselco.
Reports from Aselco said at least 500 other villages had not been connected to a power supply but these would be energized before Mr. Aquino steps down from office in 2016.
Galarse said he took pride in Aselco being cited as among the top electric cooperatives in terms of implementing the BLEP and SEP.