1.4M households in Duterte’s Mindanao still without electricity
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian chided officials of the Department of Energy (DoE) on Monday over their failure to provide electricity to all households in the country, especially in Mindanao.
This after Mario Marasigan, director of the DOE’s Energy Power Industry Management Bureau, informed the Senate committee on energy said that 2.8 million households in the country were still without electricity.
Data from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) showed that as of January 31, 2018, there were 15,028,900 potential households in the country. Of this number, 12,227,629 (91 percent) have been energized, leaving 2,801,271 households still unenergized.
Of the 2.8 million still without electricity, more than 1.4 million households or more than 51 percent were in Mindanao.
NEA data showed that there were 4,583,800 potential households in Mindanao. Of this figure, 3,142,428 were already energized, leaving 1,441,372 households still not enjoying electricity service.
Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, asked why many of those without electricity were from Mindanao, considering that President Rodrigo Duterte was from this island.
“The President is from Mindanao and yung pinakamalaking island na walang kuryente is in Mindanao,” he said.
The senator also noted that “the administrator of NEA is from Mindanao” and “all of the top government officials are from Mindanao.”
“So malaking kahihiyan po ito sa Department of Energy kung hindi natin ma-address itong 70 percent,” the senator added, rounding off the figure.
Before this, Marasigan informed the committee that the DOE already submitted a proposed executive order to Malacañang in response to Duterte’s call to remove barriers in providing electricity services to “unviable unserved and underserved areas.”
The proposed EO, he said, would identify different barriers and create task force and technical working groups to determine possible solutions to the problems.
Marasigan said the DOE was also contemplating issuing a department order that would serve the same purpose but said there might be “some potential difficulties in terms of implementation particularly in providing due respect to the awarded franchises to the different distribution utilities and rural electric cooperatives.”
“Aside from providing the qualified third party services in unviable areas, then there might be some areas as well—we categorized temporarily as underserved and unserved—that may not fall under the category of unviable therefore its not covered by the QTP (Qualified Third Parties) program,” he said.
“Of course I believe the other government agencies, particularly NEA has initiated various programs in extending electrification services to these unviable, unserved and underserved. If it has to be taken over by a different entity then the franchise will become an issue.”
Mylene Capongcol, director of the Renewable Energy Management Bureau, explained that under the Electric Power Industry Reform A, areas that could not be served by the distribution utilities could be offered to QTPs. But there is a process, she said, before a third party could take over an area.
But Gatchalian argued that based on their research, there was a legal basis for government or private sector to go into those unserved, underserved areas.
“We don’t need to wait for the electric coops to particularly waive or issue a waiver in order for other entities to come. In fact to date, sa sobrang tagal na walang kuryente , implied waiver na yan e para sa akin,” he said.
“In short director, I urge you to do your homework. We don’t need to wait for the EO, busy ang President. That will take time but at the department level you can already fine tune the entry of private sector proponents into unserved, underserved areas,” the senator said. /cbb
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