FRESH from his appointment as the new National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief, former party-list representative and respected energy cooperatives (EC) manager Edgardo R. Masongsong vowed on Sunday to help President Rodrigo R. Duterte fulfill his pledge to bring development to the farthest regions of the country by continuing the programs that will ensure the electrification of the countryside and pushing initiatives that will bring down the cost of power in the Philippines.
“Bringing light to the barrios should be our top priority because there is a correlation between access to electricity and improved incomes,” said the new NEA Administrator, who took over the post on November 18.
Citing a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the NEA chief explained that “household access to electricity in rural areas is associated with a 36% increase in per capita income, so you can see the role electrification plays in uplifting the lives of our countrymen.”
According to Masongsong, “pursuing this mandate will contribute to President Duterte’s campaign to bring peace and development to the countryside, especially Mindanao.”
President Duterte has emphasized the need to improve conditions in the regions, particular Mindanao. At the October 29 switch-on ceremonies of the DOE-NEA electrification programs in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the President said that he would “improve the Moro land.”
“Bigyan niyo ako ng panahon (just give me time),” said the President.
Energy chief Alfonso Cusi likewise echoed the sentiments of the President and Masongsong regarding the need to prioritize rural electrification, saying in the same event that “we have to find ways to energize all sitios and households to put people in the same level and be given the same opportunity.”
Because of this, Masongsong said that one of the thrusts of the NEA in his first hundred days in office would be the intensified implementation of the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) and the Barangay Line Enhancement Program (BLEP) in close coordination with electric cooperatives, the Office of the President, Department of Energy, and the Department of Budget and Management.
Aside from this, Masongsong said that another major thrusts is to push for measures that would reduce power rates in the country by addressing the factors that influence power rates, such as “generation and transmission; distribution and supply costing; governmental charges, such as VAT; and subsidies to life-line consumers, among others.”
“As a former legislator, I believe my experience in Congress will help me work with my former colleagues so we can introduce measures that will lower power rates and make the country more attractive to investors.”
The former legislator, who represented the party-list group 1-CARE (Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy) in the 16th Congress, has over twenty years experience in the energy, cooperatives, and rural development sectors. His previous posts include General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Bukidnon II Electric Cooperative Inc. and Cebu City Assistant City Administrator for Economic Enterprises Management.