Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has expressed his full support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) and its attached agencies - the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the National Electrification Authority (NEA) - as he praised the energy sector for looking after the welfare of Filipinos.
During a public hearing on the proposed budget of the agencies yesterday, Go said that the energy sector, spearheaded by DOE, has been one of the most important pillars in the country’s fight against COVID-19.
Go particularly lauded DOE’s Department Circular No. DC 2020-04-00080 which rationalized the utilization of Energy Regulation (ER) 1-94 by host local government units (LGUs) in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19 ) pandemic.
“The ER 1-94 provides host communities of energy generating facilities and/or energy resource developers a share of P0.01 kilowatt per hour of the total electricity sales as financial benefit of the host community,” he explained.
“Around P2.43 billion was transferred to various LGUs across the country from the ER 1-94 funds in response to the current health emergency the country is facing right now,” he added.
The ER 1-94 funds, as stated in the Department Circular, were utilized to facilitate mass testing, provide an emergency subsidy in the form of non-food items, support feeding programs, acquire personal protective equipment (PPEs) for medical frontliners, purchase and construction of medical facilities, tents and quarantine centers, provide electricity costs subsidies to newly constructed LGU facilities, and cremation and burial services to families affected by COVID-19.
Billions of pesos from the energy sector, such as the National Power Corporation (Napocor), NEA and Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), were also remitted to the Bureau of Treasury in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Go commended the energy sector for “providing reprieve to our ailing nation during these trying times.”
“All these being said, I urge the energy sector to work harder towards safekeeping the welfare of our fellow Filipinos,” Go said.
Go also reiterated his call to the energy sector and to all distribution utilities to strike a balance between turning a profit and servicing the general public, which, according to him, is more important.
“You cannot bring your profits to the afterlife. Let us prioritize our people over profits because for some of them it is their lives that are at stake,” he said.
“I have faith and confidence in my fellow public servants that they will see to it that the welfare of our countrymen will be put first most especially in this time of pandemic,” he added.
Go previously asked the DOE, ERC, and other concerned agencies to look into complaints regarding alleged cases of unjust electricity bills that some consumers received from power distribution utilities, such as Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
During a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy in July, ERC Chief Agnes Devanadera cited that there were 47,000 complaints lodged with the ERC against different distribution utilities and electric cooperatives.
Go also urged concerned agencies and Meralco to further clarify to the public the reason behind the rise in electricity rates during the period of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).