Several legislative measures being advanced in the House of Representatives are seeking the creation of training academy to professionalize industry practices for linemen; and for them to be provided with insurance benefits given the risk that they face in their line of work as well as remuneration in carrying out their tasks, especially at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The various bills being deliberated in Congress to compensate as well as reinforce the skill-set of power sector linemen include House Bill (HB) 471 or the Lineman Training Academy Act; HB 3247 or Lineworker Appreciation and Benefits Act; HB 472 or the National Linemen Appreciation Day Act; and HB 7058 or Distribution Utility Covid-19 Assistance, Relief and Energy Subsidy Act, also known as DU-CARES Act.
As noted by Atty Janeene Depay-Colingan, executive director and general manager of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA), “any assistance that we can extend to them (power linemen) deserves the government’s attention and priority.”
For the propounded training academy, Colingan explained that this will “fully institutionalize the practices of the linemen,” adding that “not only will it create a pool of available skilled and talented linemen, it will also facilitate and ensure continuous learning and enhancement of skills of existing linemen.”
She further recommended that the academy must “ensure adherence to global standards through international linkages and provide access to state-of-the-art facilities in the execution of its programs.”
Additionally, for the proposed insurance coverage and benefits of the linemen, it was noted that the amount shall not be less than P1.0 million – and that the premium must be shouldered by their employer.
“In the same light that our linemen take care of us by ensuring and keeping the lights on, we owe it to them to ensure that they are effectively covered financially and economically should any unexpected events happen to them,” Colingan stressed.
While there are some quarters raising probabilities of rise in tariff because of the targeted benefits for the linemen of the ECs, PHILRECA stated it would still strongly pursue the proposed bills because these relevant workers in the power sector deserve these benefits.
The waiting game for the efforts of the linemen to be recognized in their line of work, Colingan said, had already been long and winding, with her emphasizing that “our so-called ‘warriors of lights’ deserve nothing less than recognition and appreciation on what they are doing.”
Within PHILRECA’s fold, she noted that the invaluable contribution of the linemen of the country’s 121 electric cooperatives had been constantly “celebrated and recognized,” but a government-wide recognition of their significant role in sustainable development through rural electrification is still wanting.
Colingan said it is for that reason these several bills in Congress are being pushed, so a State recognition can be bestowed upon them – purposively to boost their morale “not only this time of the pandemic, but more so, as they risk their lives every day in accomplishing their tasks.”