The National Electrification Administration (NEA) on Thursday clarified that the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and other private distribution utilities are not part of the government’s “Pantawid Liwanag “ program which will subsidize the electricity consumption of around 3 million “lifeline” customers for the months of March and April as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
“Lifeline consumers” are electricity consumers are those being served by electric cooperatives who consume less than 50 kilowatt hours each month.
On Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also the spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases now battling the health crisis, announced that some 3 million customers will benefit from the Pantawid Liwanag program, which is a corporate social responsibility initiative of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA).
“Meralco and other privately owned power distribution companies are not involved in this, contrary to the reports of some media entities that have circulated online.”
“The Pantawid Liwanag is a corporate social responsibility program of the rural electrification sector led by the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) in cooperation with the National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives (NAGMEC),” NEA clarified in statement.
“It seeks to aid the member-consumer-owners of electric cooperatives (ECs) who are categorized as lifeline consumers. These are people who live below the poverty line and used electricity not exceeding 50 kWh based on their power bills during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period,” NEA added.
According to NEA, funding for the implementation of the “Pantawid Liwanag” program will depend on the financial capability of its ECs. NEA also said that the definition of “lifeline consumers” varies from one EC to another, as determined by their respective managements, within the parameters set by state regulatory agencies.
“It was clear in both the announcement of Secretary Nograles and our previously published press releases that the ‘Pantawid Liwanag’ program emanated from and will be implemented by our ECs, which are non-stock and non-profit power distribution utilities,” NEA said.
“Meralco and other privately owned power distribution companies are not involved in this, contrary to the reports of some media entities that have circulated online,” NEA added.
Meanwhile, NEA has assured that PHILRECA and electric cooperatives are finding ways to finance and sustain the “Pantawid Liwanag” program.
“We were assured by PHILRECA that the ECs are finding ways to finance the ‘Pantawid Liwanag’ program, as they are motivated by their strong desire to help the impoverished communities that they serve and have always counted on them for support in times of crises,” it said.
Information on the “Pantawid Liwanag” program can be accessed at: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2251560128486290&id=1649000978742211.