SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
House Members have expressed concern that the P621.68 million reduction in the budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) next year will adversely affect the agency's electrification program.
During the hearing last Tuesday on the DOE's budget proposal of P2.04 billion for 2019, Committee Chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) said that from the very start of the budget hearings, he is not in agreement with budget cuts that are happening in each and every department. These budget reductions will hurt the delivery of services by concerned agencies such as the DOE, according to him.
The proposed budget is P621.68 million or 23 percent lower than the DOE's 2018 allocation of P2.65 billion.
“It burdens me to see something like the NEA [National Electrification Administration] and the DOE getting very huge cut, especially for us coming from the provinces. Alam naman po natin na importante para sa atin na palaguin ang ekonomiya ng bawat probinsya at ng bawat nayon,” said Nograles.
Nograles added that President Rodrigo Duterte wants complete electrification of the sitios in Mindanao before his term ends in 2022.
“Hindi ba nakakahiya na ang Pangulo natin ay taga-Mindanao tapos naiiwan ang sitwasyon sa Mindanao?” quipped Nograles.
Cusi said they are working not only in Mindanao but in all other areas [that need energization] and that they are strengthening their collaboration with other stakeholders in the energy sector.
“We have to work together to energize and provide electricity to everybody. I have asked the cooperatives to submit their master plans”, said Cusi.
“Malaking bahagi po ang kuryente because with power comes progress, automatic po ‘yan. But with this budget cut, I’m very saddened that this is happening and so tumataas na naman ang stress levels ko dahil nga hindi katanggap-tanggap para sa akin ito,” said Nograles.
He said Congress has to do something about the budget reduction even as the DOE is trying to energize 17,939 sitios.
“I understand Secretary Cusi has a big challenge ahead of him. He has to think outside the box. I have to think outside the box as well because we are the Committee on Appropriations. But sige lang, hahanapan natin ng solusyon ito,”said Nograles.
Committee Vice Chairman Celso Lobregat acknowledged the importance of an adequate budget for the full energization of sitios natiowide.
Lobregat suggested that NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong officially write and request the Committee to help the still un-energized sitios.
Aside from the NEA, the other DOE attached agencies are the National Power Corporation (NPC), Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), and National Transmission Corporation (TransCo).
Lawmakers who attended the hearing include Reps. Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), Jesus Nonato Sacdalan (1st District, North Cotabato) and Ron Salo (Party List-Kabayan), among others./ Eddie Galvez