Palo, Leyte- “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As if taking cue from this African proverb, all electric coops of Region VIII, its Multi-Sectoral Electrification Advisory Councils Sectors (MSEAC), Barangay Power Associations (BAPAs), Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) beneficiaries, Barangay Line Electrification Program (BLEP) beneficiaries, NIHE beneficiaries and other member consumers in the region converged at Leyte Academic Center in Palo, Leyte on February 12, 2016 for Region VIII’s 1st ever Regional Energy Congress.
The Congress, organized by the Federation of the Rural Electric Cooperatives of the Region VIII (FRECOR 8), in association with the Philippine Association of Institutional Managers in Region VIII (PHILAIM 8), has charted a 5-point agenda to address the concerns faced by the electric consumers and the rural electrification programs. The 5-point advocacies are as follows: (1) Reduction of Power Rates thru the abolition of Value-Added Tax (VAT) in the Electricity Rates; (2) Institutionalization of Calamity Subsidy to all electric cooperatives in times of calamity; (3) Institutionalization and Strengthening of Task Force Kapatid; (4) Furtherance of the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) and the Nationwide Intensification Household Energization (NIHE); and (5) Extension of Calamity Loan to Electric Coop Employees, specially the field personnel who are doing the restoration during calamities.
The Congress was highlighted by the presence of former Energy Secretary, now Senatorial Candidate, Carlos Jericho “ICOT” L. Petilla and nominees of the 1-Care Party List who were presented with the Congress’ 5-point agenda. The plenary floor leader General Manager Allan Laniba of LEYECO III presented said 5 primary concerns. GM Laniba stressed that we need champions who will take a seat in the Senate and Congress, who will be real warriors of energy.
Voicing the consensus of the Congress, GM Laniba averred that while there were other concerns hounding the power industry, the five would suffice, saying, “There are only five concerns, marami man. Pero kung itong lima will be promulgated into laws, in Senate thru our Energy Champion, Mr. Petilla and in Congress thru our 1-Care Partylist, if both of them will believe in our cause, then we will be casting our votes for these people who will help us in shaping our sector in the energy.”
Mr. Jericho Petilla who flew from Manila to Leyte together with his comrades Camarines Norte Vice Governor Jonah Pimentel and Vice Governor of Leyte Carlos Loreto, just to attend the Congress, approved of these 5 primary concerns. He noted that in terms of energy consumption, only 20% was served by the electric coops, 65% was by Meralco and the remaining 15 % by other private utilities. But this 20% served by the electric coops represented 70% of the total population in the Philippines. “That’s why I am greatly concerned with our electric coops because I know for a fact they are the true warriors of light who will give light to the marginalized Filipinos,” Petilla said during his well-received keynote address.
1-CARE Partylist Representative Nominees Edgardo Masongsong, Atty. Carlos Roman Uybarretta, and Ramon Cuasay also approved of the output of the plenary and all of them, together with Petilla, signed a commitment to make these 5-point concerns part of their advocacies in the halls of Congress of the Philippines should they win in the upcoming May 9, 2016 national elections.
The new President of FRECOR 8, LEYECO V General Manager Juanito E. Jorda, was pleased at the success of the first Energy Congress in raising awareness among its participants of the importance of the 5 primary concerns of the electric cooperatives and the need to have partners in Congress who would be committed to the cause of rural electrification.