By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian called on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials to address the issue of energy poverty in the region as data from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) showed that as of December 2020, there are still 106,491 households or 29.99% that remain without electricity as only 248,551 households are being served out of the total 355,042.
“As the COVID-19 remains to be a threat, we have to have a concrete program in order to give electricity to all of our kababayans in BARMM. Poverty is not only in the form of monetary poverty. There’s also such a thing as energy poverty and this is what we want to fight in the region. The BARMM cannot be left behind,” said Gatchalian.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament had said in a Senate local government committee hearing that internet connectivity and inadequate power supply has made it difficult for the residents in the region to hold online consultations and meetings.
One crucial matter being deliberated on is to postpone the BARMM elections to 2025 in the region, thus extending the term of its interim government, the BTA, by three more years.
Gatchalian said authorities should look into concerns of inadequate electricity supply and poor internet connection to ensure the continuing work on the reorganization of the bureaucracy.
“Paperwork and meetings can be conducted virtually. Even here in the Senate, we continue to do our jobs virtually,” he pointed out.
The Senate Energy Committee Chairman pushed anew the proposed Microgrid Systems Act, a measure that will provide electricity access to all Filipino households.
The measure aims to provide round-the-clock electricity supply to unserved areas or those with no electricity access and underserved areas or those currently served by distribution utilities whose supply of electricity is less than 24 hours daily.
“A hundred percent electrification will have an enormous impact on reducing energy poverty and help improve the overall quality of life of millions of Filipinos living in many rural and far-flung areas in the country,” Gatchalian concluded. (AI/MTVN)