By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives has approved the creation of an emergency fund that will be readily available to support electric cooperatives in swiftly rehabilitating infrastructure damaged during fortuitous events and natural calamities.
Voting 205-0, the Lower House approved on third and final reading House Bill 7054 or the proposed “Emergency and Resiliency Fund for Electric Cooperatives Law.”
HB 7054 consolidated three separate legislative proposals filed by Deputy Speaker Eric Singson and Ilocos Sur Rep. Deogracias Victor Savellano, among other authors.
Aside from funding emergency repair and rehabilitation projects, the proposed emergency and resiliency fund will also finance the implementation of disaster prevention, management, and mitigation measures of electric cooperatives in the country.
All 205 House members present during the voting supported the bill which seeks to mandate the government to support and assist all electric cooperatives (ECs) affected by force majeure to immediately restore power. This will facilitate and assist efforts by LGUs in rendering aid, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of devastated areas.
Singson said HB 7054 guarantees the orderly and continuing allocation of financial assistance to electric cooperatives to enable them to implement measures that will protect and strengthen their critical infrastructure assets against natural and man-made disasters.
Under the bill, the National Electrification Administration will manage the fund as it is given additional powers to supervise the implementation of the anti-disaster and resiliency program of electric cooperatives.
NEA is empowered to direct electric cooperatives to submit their respective comprehensive and integrated disaster management programs that include Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) and Emergency Response (ERP).
NEA may also receive donations in the form of cash, materials and equipment, which are intended to restore electric cooperative infrastructure damaged by a fortuitous events or force majeure.
On the other hand, electric cooperatives are expected to fully pursue the implementation of the rural electrification program of government throughout the country.
Singson said electric cooperatives will also ascertain the ability of their manpower to undertake emergency response for the immediate restoration or rehabilitation of their damaged infrastructure after a catastrophe.
Initial funding for the fund will be drawn from the current appropriation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) fund until it has been included in the following year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Donations granted for the purpose of restoring or rehabilitating damaged power infrastructure will be exempted from all taxes, duties, and other fees imposed by the government.