The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has formally received from the Japanese government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) brand new equipment and materials that will help improve the power distribution systems of the electric cooperatives (ECs) operating in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The certificate of turnover for the equipment was signed by NEA, JICA, and the Japanese during a simple ceremony held in Zamboanga City on August 14.

“For years, the people in the Bangsamoro areas have been longing for a more convenient and peaceful life.”

Deputy Administrator for Technical Services Artis Nikki Tortola signed the document for and in behalf of the NEA, while JICA Philippines Chief Representative Yoshio Wada and Minister for Economic Affairs Makoto Iyori of the Embassy of Japan were the signatories for JICA and the Japanese government, respectively. 

The turnover was followed by a signing of memorandum of agreement between the NEA and the six ECs namely, the Basilan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BASELCO), Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (LASURECO), Maguindanao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MAGELCO), Siasi Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SIASELCO), Sulu Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SULECO), and Tawi-Tawi Electric Cooperative, Inc. (TAWELCO).

These ECs were selected for their low electrification connection, high power distribution loss, frequent outages, old and dilapidated equipment and materials, that have affected their operational efficiencies and delivery of electricity services to their respective communities.

The power distribution equipment and materials included boom trucks (16 units), transformers (425 units), poles (4,071 pieces), and wires.

“The trucks and equipment from the project can assist the electric cooperatives in the Bangsamoro in improving the local people’s access to electricity.”

In a message delivered on behalf of NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong,  Tortola thanked the Japanese government and JICA for the equipment and the technical assistance extended to the six power co-ops in the Bangsamoro region.

“Indeed, this project clearly manifests the strong partnership of the Governments of Japan and the Philippines in the cause for a better life in the rural areas by helping the electric cooperatives, especially in the Bangsamoro region, improve their operations,” Tortola said.

“For years, the people in the Bangsamoro areas have been longing for a more convenient and peaceful life. And we believe that with efficient electricity service, our countrymen in these areas will now have the opportunity to enjoy and experience equality and equity, leveled playing field, enhanced living condition, and opportunities for wealth creation,” he added. 

NEA likewise advised the beneficiaries of the project to fully optimize the assistance extended to them “to level up their technical capabilities towards higher operational efficiency, which will give the people in Bangsamoro fair chances of uplifting their way of living.” 

The project was financed through a grant aid amounting to 771-million yen extended by the Japanese government through JICA to the Philippine government, which was signed on March 30, 2017.

Japanese Minister for Economic Affairs Iyori expressed hope the power distribution equipment and technical assistance extended to the six ECs will be able to “establish a steady flow of electricity that the people of Western Mindanao can rely on.” 

He said the project is also seen to increase the possible power transmission capacity by approximately 1.4 times, reduce power distribution loss, length of power outages, and other problems. 

“Not only will it stabilize power supply, but more importantly, result in the improvement of social services for local residents to reap the dividends of peace that come with the progress of the peace process,” the Japanese official said. 

Meanwhile, JICA Philippines Chief Representative Wada expressed confidence that through JICA and NEA’s partnership, the Bangsamoro region “can maximize its resources to develop and diversify its economy.”

“The trucks and equipment from the project can assist the electric cooperatives in the Bangsamoro in improving the local people’s access to electricity. Consequently, this could also mean that businesses can thrive with the availability of stable electricity supply,” the JICA official said.

Meanwhile, Administrator Masongsong welcomed the Department of Finance’s plan to tap funding sources for the electrification of BARRM’s remote areas. 

The NEA chief also stressed that there should be “a whole of nation approach” to address electrification woes and other major issues in the region, such as peace and order, accessibility, and poverty.

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