Senator Win Gatchalian called for more than a 100-percent increase in an item in the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 that will fund the electric cooperatives’ (EC) repair of damaged power lines and infrastructures.
In sponsoring the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) proposed budget, Gatchalian proposed an additional P550 million in the P200 million allocation for the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) next year.
“I would like to state for the record as early as now that with the onslaught of the natural calamities this year, I will be proposing that this amount be increased since the total damage to electric cooperatives from the Taal eruption and typhoons Ambo, Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses already amounts to P829 million as of Nov. 16, 2020,” the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee said.
ECERF, under Republic Act No. 11039, was institutionalized last year as a ready fund that can be tapped by ECs for faster restoration of electricity and power facilities damaged by natural calamities. Funds under ECERF are being administered and managed by the NEA.
“Considering the extent of damage left behind by the series of typhoons that devastated several areas in the country, the original proposed appropriation for ECERF would not suffice to cover the cost of repair work of the ECs,” said Gatchalian.
For this year, the ECERF was given an appropriation of P250 million and in next year’s budget, the proposed allocation is placed at P200 million.
The senator justified his proposal saying that the funding requirement for ECERF is to assure the availability of funds in times of any fortuitous event or force majeure in the coming year.
“Alam naman natin na ang consumers ay naging biktima rin ng bagyo kaya po itong pondo na ito ay gagamitin sa mga ganitong sitwasyon para hindi na ipasa ang pagpapagawa ng mga poste sa ating mga consumers,” the senator explained.
“Sisiguraduhin natin na itong mga kooperatiba natin dito ay magkakaroon ng access sa pondong yan para mabilis ang repair ng mga nasirang poste ng kuryente,” Gatchalian added.
Based on the latest information, Gatchalian was told that in Cagayan province, the Cagayan Electric Cooperative (Cagelco) 1 managed to restore 74% of the power lines while Cagelco 2 already restored 99%. In Catanduanes, however, only three percent has been restored so far.