NEA told to realign ₧1.6-billion funding to energize Bangsamoro


Senator Sherwin Gatchalian goaded the National Electrification Administration (NEA) Friday to reallocate the P1.6-billion funding for next year’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) upon learning that “not a single centavo” was earmarked to electrify remote villages in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“Please consider it because it is one of the desires of our kababayans in BARMM, to get villages electrified especially in that area [plagued] by insurgency,” the senator stressed. “It is one way to ward off insurgency by making sure electricity is continuously flowing,” he added, reminding “without electricity, there is poverty.”

Gatchalian conveyed his concern as senators started scrutiny of the P3.896-billion corporate operating budget of NEA in the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

In turn, newly designated NEA Administrator Emmanuel Juaneza admitted to senators sitting in the Finance Subcommittee E chaired by Gatchalian that the prevailing peace and order situation led them to “exclude BARMM in funding Sitio Electrification Program next year.”

“I think it’s common knowledge that BARMM is one of the poorest areas in our country. We need to energize our sitios there to make sure that the government is present and reaching out to those areas,” said Gatchalian.

He affirmed that lawmakers support the provision of billions for the barangay development program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to clear the strongholds of communists and insurgents and pave the way for the construction of farm-to-market roads, schools, livelihood programs, and establishment of rural electrification.

Gatchalian affirmed it is “important to reach out to them so that they will feel the services of the government. I think we should really look at BARMM and poverty-stricken areas there so that the government can reach out to them. And electricity is one way to reduce poverty,” he said.

For his part, the NEA administrator assured they “have been coordinating with NTF-ELCAC to provide them support” in addressing the peace and order problem, being “one of the major hurdles in remote areas, such as the case in BARMM.”

Juaneza informed Gatchalian that “even with the present allocation that we have, we will refocus and reallocate more to the BARMM area and we are also talking with the DOE [Department of Energy].” He confided to Gatchalian that “we might be able to source some funds, P450 million I think. We can allocate it to BARMM.”

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