THE chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations on Saturday assured funding for the implementation of Republic Act 11039, also known as the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund Act.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, the panel’s chairman, made the statement following the President’s signing into law of RA 11039.
At the same time; Nograles, who was among the main authors of the measure at the Lower House, assured the availability of funds for the new law under the soon-to-be-tackled 2019 national budget.
Nograles said the main objective of RA 11039 is to support and assist electric cooperatives (ECs) that have been adversely affected by calamities or force majeure so they may be able to immediately restore electric service to the people.
“These ECs are heavily relied upon in the provinces for their electric service. If their operations get crippled, so too will the lives of local residents whose world will be plunged in darkness on top of the disaster that caused the outage in the first place. Unfortunately, we are a magnet for natural disasters,” Nograles said.
“I will see to it that the eventual General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2019 will provide ample funding for this law, which is an important safety net for the 122 ECs scattered all over the country,” Nograles added.
The House, which has the power of the purse, expects to receive the proposed 2019 National Expenditure Program from Malacañang in late July or right at the start of the third regular session. The NEP will be the basis for the national budget or the GAA.
The Appropriations panel headed by Nograles takes the lead in the budget deliberations, which will go full blast in August.
The Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund will be managed and administered by the National Electrification Administration, whose mandate involves ensuring that these power distribution utilities are kept running.
Nograles said an initial budget of P750 million would be allocated for the implementation of RA No.11039. This amount will be sourced from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF).
It will be NEA’s task to disburse the money to qualified ECs under its Quick Response Fund.
“This allows the electric coops to protect and strengthen their own critical infrastructure assets in order to mitigate the adverse effects of the disaster. It will provide them with breathing space to help them get back on their feet,” Nograles said.
Based on the approved House version of the measure, the ECERF shall be broken down as follows: 30 percent for the ECs’ disaster prevention, disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation measures as approved by NEA; 60 percent for the restoration and rehabilitation of infrastructures of ECs damaged by catastrophe; and 10 percent for the settlement of expenses incurred by ECs during restoration and rehabilitation of infrastructure damages.
In case the funds aren’t enough, the enacted measure says NEA may seek the allocation of a supplementary budget subject to the approval of the Office of the President.