The National Electrification Administration (NEA) marked 50 years of rural electrification Tuesday (August 6) with the official launching of a commemorative stamp and the symbolic switch-on of the 13-millionth electric cooperative (EC) consumer connection in the country. 

Together with ECs and their allied organizations, the NEA officials and employees led by Administrator Edgardo Masongsong gathered at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City to celebrate five decades of energizing the countryside. 

The commemorative stamp “symbolizes the NEA’s unfailing commitment in the pursuit of rural electrification in the Philippines for five decades, with the electric cooperatives as its implementing arm…”

In his message, Masongsong expressed optimism of continued progress but cited the need for the non-profit distribution utilities to “keep exploring fresh ideas and innovative strategies to further improve the delivery of services” to their member-consumer-owners (MCOs). 

“We need to further our partnership towards the realization of our vision of standing dynamic and responsive in being a vanguard of sustainable rural development in partnership with globally competitive ECs and empowered electricity consumers,” he said. 

The NEA chief admitted they have a gargantuan task ahead of them in lighting up the “last mile” of communities, particularly in areas that are impossible to connect to the grid, but this should not stop them from carrying out their mandate. 

“We need to pursue the rural electrification program through the ECs, even in missionary or economically unviable areas, and empower and enable ourselves to cope with the changes in the electric power industry,” he added.

Since 1969, power co-ops and the NEA have energized a total of 78 provinces, 90 cities, 1,385 municipalities and 36,057 barangays across the country. Together, they are serving more than 13 million households or roughly 61 million Filipinos nationwide. 

This accomplishment may have gone unnoticed by the general public but not the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which played a crucial role in the establishment of community-owned distribution utilities in the Philippines. 

“We need to pursue the rural electrification program through the ECs, even in missionary or economically unviable areas.”

The NRECA through its Board of Directors Vice President Chris Christensen congratulated the NEA on its anniversary, citing the “strong bond” between power coops in the Philippines and the United States.

“We are not only celebrating the 50th anniversary of this journey, but we are acknowledging the cooperatives’ dedication and commitment to your country, to the communities you serve, and to the families that rely on you,” Christensen said. 

“You’ve provided affordable and reliable electricity to over 13 million Filipino homes and businesses. More than that, your 121 electric cooperatives work hard every day so that your communities may prosper,” the NRECA official added. 

For his part, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi encouraged NEA and its partner ECs to set aside political differences and “put together a united front in addressing the challenges of rural electrification.”

“I commend all ECs that have gone above and beyond your mandate in serving your member-consumer-owners. May your actions serve as an example to others and inspire them to aspire for excellence,” Cusi said.

Meanwhile, among the highlights of the NEA’s golden anniversary celebration was the launching of the Commemorative Stamp and Official First Day Cover by the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost) with the NEA to mark 50 years of rural electrification in the country. 

The commemorative stamp “symbolizes the NEA’s unfailing commitment in the pursuit of rural electrification in the Philippines for five decades, with the electric cooperatives as its implementing arm, together with the member-consumer-owners, in providing the people in the countryside with opportunities to empower and enable them to improve their quality of life.”

Masongsong received the items from Philpost Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Joel L. Otarra. Around 20,000 commemorative stamps have been issued for the occasion, which can be bought at P12 each.

A symbolic switch-on ceremony in honor of the 13-millionth household consumer connection under the franchise area of South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SOCOTECO-II) was also held during the anniversary celebration. The 13-millionth connection beneficiary, Feliza Pangilan, a 76-year old farmer and member of the B’laan tribe, was present at the switch-on ceremony.

The NEA likewise awarded the winners and runners-up of the recently concluded Rural Electrification (RE) Talent Competitions dubbed “Dagitab: A Showcase of Culture and the Arts in Rural Electrification” at the PICC.

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