The National Electrification Administration (NEA) and electric cooperatives (ECs), through the One EC Network Foundation, are stepping up efforts to help earthquake survivors in Cotabato rise from the rubble and rebuild their lives.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong graced on Friday the official launch of the “Build Me A Home: Adopt A Home, Adopt a Future” program initiated by the Succour Foundation, Inc. for the residents of Barangay Buena Vida.
‘Build-a-Home’ was launched by the private sector is a significant step towards the psychosocial development of the traumatized communities.
The program aims to benefit the marginalized sector, especially the farmers who had lost their homes in the wake of the three strong earthquakes that hit North Cotabato in a span of two weeks last October.
Buena Vida is one of the communities left in ruins by those tremors. The small village is under the franchise area of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative, Inc. (COTELCO), which consequently incurred a 30-percent drop in its electricity demand.
In his message, the NEA administrator lauded the ‘Build-a-Home’ initiative and expressed hope that this kind of program will be replicated in other communities in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur as well, which were also severely affected by the calamity.
“We are helping the member-consumer-owners of COTELCO rebuild their homes and at the same time we are also helping the electric cooperative (recover from its losses),” Masongsong said.
The NEA chief also disclosed that the rural electrification agency is already looking for funds to help cover the cost of house wiring materials for the permanent shelters that will be built through the program.
Masongsong lamented the lack of funding for the implementation of Republic Act No. 11039, also known as Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) Act, which could have hastened this process.
He said the ECERF law cannot be enforced at the moment because the P750-million fund it promised to rehabilitate the facilities of disaster-stricken ECs is yet to be provided under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Masongsong expressed hope that the necessary funding for this will be included in the next budget hearing. One EC Network Foundation and Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) president Presley de Jesus echoed the same appeal.
“The “Build Me A Home” program will prioritize those who have no capacity to pay for labor and construction materials to rebuild their homes.”
De Jesus, who also represents PHILRECA as a party-list group in the 18th Congress, assured that he will mention the plight of the earthquake survivors during the House Disaster Management Committee hearing.
“Definitely in the committee hearing next week, I will bring this up so that the money, the aid will come from Congress to Makilala,” De Jesus said, invoking his position as vice-chairperson of the House Disaster Management Committee.
Under the ECERF law, the NEA is tasked to manage and administer the P750-million allocation to be taken from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund. This will be disbursed to the qualified EC beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Alfonso Jack Sandique of Succour Foundation, who also serves as COTELCO board director representing Makilala town, said the “Build Me A Home” program will prioritize those who have no capacity to pay for labor and construction materials to rebuild their homes.
Initially, the organization has been relocating some 75 to 100 affected families in temporary shelters inside a privately-owned rubber plantation. They will soon be transferred to a permanent home that can withstand stronger tremors in a nearby location.
Housing units to be constructed by the ‘Build-a-Home’ program are estimated to cost around P80,000 each. Each unit is designed to have its own kitchen, bedroom and sanitation facility.
According to Lt. Col. Rodjun Rosales, commander of the Philippine Army’s 39th Infantry Batallion, there are four barangays in Makilala that were declared as “no-build zones” namely Bato, Buhay, Cabilao, and Luayon.
Of the 11 evacuation centers in Makilala, nine are schools with 4,700 families taking temporary refuge. Rosales said the ‘Build-a-Home’ program launched by the private sector is a significant step towards the psychosocial development of the traumatized communities.
The general managers and board directors of the different ECs in Mindanao as well as their allied organizations nationwide have likewise pledged to help rebuild the lives of the people of Barangay Buena Vida through this initiative.