DOE deserves to be thanked too

While we continuously heap upon our frontliners well-deserved praises, good wishes, prayers and all forms of material support and gratitude, let us not forget that those at the frontlines during this COVID 19 crisis are not only the countrys health workers and members of the law enforcement.

Let us not forget to thank the Department of Energy (DoE) headed by Secretary Alfonso Cusi and which ensures that we enjoy continuous electric power supply while we are on lockdown, specially enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).Can you imagine what life would be like for all of us if there were outages or intermittent power while we are all under orders to stay at home?

Apart from this basic duty of keeping all of our homes ‘electrified,’  Sec. Cusi is also busy attending to other COVID 19-related measures.

One of these is the donation of hundreds of e-trikes to various local government units, in the wake of the suspension of public transportation due to the ECQ.

Sec. Cusi said he is but pleased that the LGU heads have put the said donated e-trikes to such good use, mainly to address needs related to COVID 19.

These include using the e-trikes to ferry healthcare workers, deliver food assistance to the residents and frontliners or serve as rolling stores so that residents no longer have to queue in groceries and mingle with crowds.

In the provinces, the members of the Philippine National Police use the e-trikes for transportation and and emergency purposes.

Sec. Cusi also directed the utilization of Energy Regulations 1-94 (ER 1-94) Program funds to help host the LGUs’ fight against COVID19, as he signed a Department Circular (DC) providing the rules and guidelines for the effective administration, management, as well as the immediate utilization and implementation of  the said funds to help communities hosting energy-generating facilities and or energy resource developers in the fight against COVID-19.

‘For our country to effectively and efficiently 'flatten the curve', we must ensure that all our local government units have the resources that would aid in containing, mitigating, and eventually eliminating the spread of COVID-19 in their respective jurisdictions. Releasing available ER 1-94 funds to host communities would definitely add an additional boost to their on-going efforts to combat the disease, Sec. Cusi emphasized.

Under the DOE's ER 1-94 program, host communities to energy generation facilities and/or energy resource development are entitled to P 0.01 per kilowatt-hour of the total electricity sales of generation companies and energy resource developers  to finance electrification, livelihood and development projects.

Initiated by Cusi himself, the said order provides for the targeted utilization of ER 1-94 funds to strengthen measures against COVID-19 during this period. It seeks to fulfill the following objectives: provide impetus to host local government units (LGUs) to align with the national government in providing ways to mitigate, if not contain, the transmission of COVID-19; help provide host LGUs sufficient, adequate, and readily available funding to undertake their duty to mitigate, if not contain, COVID-19 in their respective areas;  rationalize and give host LGUs a framework to utilize ER 1-94 Funds to bolster their efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis in their respective areas and provide a doable and efficient manner of disposition and utilization of the ER 1 -94 Funds in light of the urgency of the current national situation.

For the purposes of the circular, available ER 1-94 Funds are funds that have already been remitted to host LGUs and those funds that are still with the DOE and concerned Generation Companies as of the last quarterly billing period of 2019.

Moreover, all available ER 1-94 Funds will be utilized and disbursed by the host LGUs to manage the effects of COVID-19, in accordance with Republic Act 11469, or the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,’ for the following: facilitation of mass testing by providing and constructing facilities and/or acquiring proper medical testing kits to detect COVID-19, including the payment of medical testing and analysis fees; provision of an emergency subsidy in the form of non-food items when there are delays or insufficiencies and to augment existing subsidy programs of the national government to low income households while the State of Public Health Emergency is still in effect; ensure the uninterrupted availability and access of essential commodities, particularly food and medicines, via a ‘mobile market’ and the adoption of measures to minimize disruption in the supply chain; support feeding programs of national government agencies and initiation of own feeding programs, including the provision of relief goods for low-income constituents during the State of Public Health Emergency;  acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for frontline medical workers, and medical and other decontamination/disinfecting supplies and equipment, including but not limited to alcohol disinfectants, sanitizers, common medicines, thermo-scanners, and contactless thermometers, respirators and/or ventilators; provision, by construction or lease, of additional provincial, city, municipal, or barangay medical facilities, tents, safe holding areas, including quarantine centers and distribution centers, to accommodate the increasing number of patients and medical reliefs; electricity cost subsidies to newly constructed facilities of provincial, city, municipal, or barangay hospitals and health clinics, including the increase in electricity demand, as calculated, metered and certified by concerned distribution utilities by reason of COVID-19; provision of cremation or burial services to families affected by the coronavirus and other reasonable and tangible measures to contain, mitigate and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19, and manage and mitigate its effects to the community and individuals.

With Sec. Cusi at the helm of the DOE, I’m certain he will continously explore more ways to support the country’s fight against COVID-19.

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