House Appropriations Chairperson Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles on Tuesday again asked why the budget of a critical government office had been slashed, as he quizzed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi during the Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget deliberations regarding the budget of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), which was reduced from 1.8 billion pesos in 2018 to 1.135 billion pesos for 2019.
“An average of 1.4 million pesos is required to energize a sitio.”
“From the information I’ve gathered, I understand that an average of 1.4 million pesos is required to energize a sitio; if that is the case, then the 635 million-peso reduction in the NEA budget means the number of energized sitios will be fewer by 450 sitios compared to the previous year,” said Nograles.
“The 635 million-peso reduction in the NEA budget means the number of energized sitios will be fewer by 450 sitios compared to the previous year.”
“I find this rather disturbing because power delayed is progress denied. Even the good Energy Secretary has pointed out that electricity creates wealth and that it empowers people to create wealth. Paano mabibigyan ang mga kababayan natin sa probinsya ng pagkakataon na bumangon sa kahirapan kung wala silang kuryente?”
Nograles pointed out that data from the NEA shows that there are still 19,740 sitios or 2.4 million households across the country that do not have access to electricity.
“The majority of these households, of course, are in the rural areas, in our provinces. The bulk, not surprisingly, are from Mindanao, my home, which has the most number of sitios without power: 8,535. Lugi na naman ang mga malayo sa Maynila, sila na naman ang naiiwan,” lamented the solon from Davao.
Nograles pointed out that this was the situation President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to remedy when he directed the DOE to ensure full electrification of the country by the time his term ends in 2022.
“As the first Chief Executive from Mindanao, the President has seen firsthand how many of his fellow probinsyanos do not have access to something as basic as electricity. That is why his marching orders regarding this matter are so clear,” stressed Nograles.
“The President has seen firsthand how many of his fellow probinsyanos do not have access to something as basic as electricity.”
“I hope the DOE and NEA have a plan to get this done and can tell us how much will be needed next year and in the years to come so that we can find ways to literally and figuratively empower our fellow probinsyanos.”