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Sitio Electrification Program

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SITIO ELECTRIFICATION PROGRAM: A BRIGHT HOPE FOR GEOGRAPHICALLY ISOLATED AND DISADVANTAGED AREAS

Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) is a part of the Aquino government for its compliance to his administrative’s social contract with the Filipino people and was started way back 2011. Headed by Administrator Edith Bueno, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and with its partnership with the 96 electric Cooperatives (ECs) nationwide in 2011 was able to electrify 1,520 sitios in 90 days. Sitio Electrification Program of the Philippine Government aims to provide basic needs in electricity for safe lightning usage and to promote other gains in socio- economic aspect in using electricity.

According to The World Bank Data 2012, Philippines is at 133rd among the 213 countries based on its national and international sources which has the greatest and lowest percentage of population with access to electricity on which Lebanon is the highest and Sint Maarten (Dutch Part) was the lowest.

As of June 2015, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) has accomplished 78 percent of its target under the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP). In a statement, the state-run agency said it spent P14.61 billion to energize a total of 25,257 sitios, or an average of P578,411.72 per sitio. NEA and its partner-electric cooperatives (ECs) were able to power 4,744 more sitios which gives initial consumers of 142,329 or 711,600 Filipinos nationwide benefit through the SEP. During the first half, Region VI (Western Visayas) energized the most number of sitios at 680. The President said that even far-flung areas were powered up, through solar or other technologies. “Various strategies are being instituted to fast track SEP implementation for all Filipinos to enjoy the benefits of electricity,” Bueno said. 100-percent coverage of these areas once beneficiaries are able to secure service connection permits from concerned local government units (LGUs) was the aim of NEA. The Department of Energy of Philippine government is tried its best to have 90-percent household electrification across the country by 2017. The government’s aggressive and renewed thrust toward household electrification was rooted on the belief that electricity stimulates economic growth in the rural areas where it is needed the most.

Given the initial gains of the program, it was supported by certain laws and policies. The R.A. 6038 who created the National Electrification Administration and being as the prime mover of Sitio Electification Program and Republic Act 10531 known as National Electrification Administration Reform Act of 2013.

But somehow Sitio Electrification Program failed to prioritize the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas to which these areas were mostly resided with the Indigenous People and this is evident as I work as a Project Development Officer 2 of Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program of Valencia City, Bukidnon specifically for example at Sitio Pantaron where there are almost 150 Manobo households who still have no electricity until now and they were not given at least or assisted in having renewable energy systems or any appropriate technology that will help them have electricity and many of them are dismayed by the present government to which leads some of them to say that it is better for them to join the New Peoples Army. Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged areas are said to be the areas left behind by the nations development due to its location that is hardly accessible. Mostly the Electric Cooperative Focus it’s Sitio Electification to easy to access sitios and they mainly choose areas, which can basically afford the electric fees during payment time. Local Government Units show more support to these areas where many tax- payers were residing in it and also its supporters during the election campaign period. There is also an increasing incident that Manobo children in Sitio Pantaron have absents because they play computer games in the neighboring barangay who have electricity and also parental disputes occur also since most of the husband’s habit are drinking liquors and singing videoke. There is also a need for light posts in the road going to sitio Pantaron especially useful at night since there are many cliffs while going there and was only accessible by walking and riding a horse to which many times, there are Manobo’s who fell in the cliff and was injured.

Suggestions for Sitio Electrification Program

The Philippine Government should be true to its commitment in following and the enactment of the Republic Act No. 8371 known as the “The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997” specifically on its Chapter IV Section 20 that the Government shall establish the means for the full development/ empowerment of the ICCs/IPs own institutions and initiatives and, where necessary, provide the resources needed therefor, and on Chapter 5 Section 25 states that the Indigenous People should have access to basic services, to have immediate, effective and continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions and they shall guaranteed the right to government’s basic services but not limited to, water and electrical facilities, education, health and infrastructure.

The Sitio Electification Programs should continue after the Pnoy Administration and will be modified to prioritize the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas before the typical accessible Sitio areas or at least allocate the remaining administration’s budget for them. The Indigenous People will be given discounts in the electric bills or at least will be offered affordable amortization scheme of payment. The government should help these people to have safe lighting facility after the long years of waiting since it is dangerous to use candle or gas- powered lampara for majority of their houses were only built by wood, nipa and cogon. The people will be given the chance to have rice mill on their own place and no need for them to bring it in the urban areas to be processed. They will be introduced to the recent technology and be able to know news easily and was updated. Electricity in schools is also important for it enable the use of modern mass media tools in classroom and they need ceiling fans for sometimes the climate is too hot for the teachers and students. Electricity will also help Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas to have the possibility to produce drinking water directly to their houses through electric pumping. Manobo women will be engaged in food processing for their extra income since majority of them were only staying at home where some of their husband’s don’t let them work outside their home. There is also a possibility that the Indigenous People will be more productive since they can still work at early night where more working hour means more productivity.

These things will be made possible if the government with the Department of Energy and the National Electrification Administration, will only allocate and provide appropriate funds to Electric Cooperatives to avoid corruption with proper supervision and will not haste in achieving their targets that leads to poor quality of outputs. If the residents of Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas will not realize this electrification, they will be left behind the country’s development, will be possibly influenced and join the Philippine terrorist groups and keep anger towards the Philippine government.

Reference List:

http://www.doe.gov.ph/doe_files/pdf/02_Energy_Statistics/power_statistics_2014.pdf

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS/countries/1W?order=wbapi_data_value_2012%20wbapi_data_value%20wbapi_data_value-first&sort=desc&display=default

http://www.philstar.com/business/2015/07/20/1478743/nea-hits-78-rural-electrification-target

http://www.cagelco1.org.ph/sep.htm

http://ileco3.com/sitio-electrification-program-sep-in-ileco-iii/

http://president.gov.ph/gov_at_work/sitio-electrification-program-lights-up-78-of-target-communities-under-aquino-admin/

http://business.inquirer.net/110487/p5-4b-earmarked-for-nea-electrification-program…...

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