MANILA, Philippines – The bill that would provide government funding for emergency and resiliency efforts of 122 electric cooperatives is now ready for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
This came after the Senate and House of Representatives approved the bicameral conference committee report, reconciling the differing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1461 and House Bill No. 7054.
“With this reconciled version of the bill, we will create a culture of resiliency in our electric cooperatives and will be responsive to their needs in the aftermath of natural disasters,” said Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian, principal sponsor.
The bill, if signed into law, would allot an initial P750 million for the purpose. It would be carved out from the P7-billion budget of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
“The amount shall be immediately released to the National Electrification Administration Quick Response Fund for proper release to qualified electric cooperatives,” Gatchalian said.
Subsequent allocations would then be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the national budget under the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF).
This means the electric cooperatives would no longer have to pass on reconstruction costs of infrastructure damaged by natural calamities to their more than 11 million consumers.
“The allocation of the fund shall be exclusively for the restoration or rehabilitation of the electric cooperatives’ damaged infrastructure after a fortuitous event,” Gatchalian explained, stressing further that the amount should not be used for the conversion of a calamity loan into a grant.
The senator is confident Duterte would sign the bill before his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July. – Rappler.com