Editorial: Camotes folk’s power woes-A A +A
Friday, January 28, 2011
THE first attempt to energize one of the towns in the Camotes group of islands, or at least the municipality’s poblacion area, was in the ‘70s, and this was done by a Sacred Heart missionary, Fr. Joseph Weirtz.
Using a generator donated by a private establishment in the Cebu mainland, Weirtz managed to provide electricity to streetlamps and houses in the poblacion in the early evening until 10 p.m. for several years.
Weirtz was a missionary in every sense of the word, finding ways to provide basic services to Tudela folk by either pushing the national and local governments to act or soliciting help from private entities.
The lobby was needed because Tudela and the other Camotes towns of Poro, San Francisco and Pilar are far from Cebu’s main urban center, making them prone to neglect.
The National Power Corp. (NPC) would later set up a 2.6 megawatt power plant in nearby Poro under its Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG). The move energized Poro, Tudela and San Francisco towns.
Poro and Tudela occupy one island that is connected by a land bridge to the other island where San Francisco is located. Pilar is an island farther away, nearer Ormoc City in Leyte, and thus needed to have a separate and smaller (.5 megawatt) plant.
Incidentally, SPUG’s mandate is to provide electricity to “missionary” areas, a term that recalls the zeal of Fr. Weirtz.
But judging from recent developments, NPC officials have yet to acquire Weirtz’s missionary zeal in their dealing with missionary areas or areas outside of the main transmission grid.
The problem currently besetting the Camotes Island Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Celco), which is the lack of fuel for its power plants, is either a product of ineptitude or the failure to give importance to the needs of residents of a far-off place.
As a result, the growth seen in Camotes, sparked by the rising interest mainly in San Francisco’s beaches and other tourist come-ons, is being threatened by rotating brownouts and the threat of longer power outage.
Still in the ‘70s, Fr. Weirtz set up a school and a small hospital in Tudela and pushed the national government to build a National Food Authority bodega there—-all because he thought that a town separated by water from the mainland needed to be provided with basic services, be it in good or bad weather.
Concerned government officials should acquire the same mindset and immediately act on the power woes of Camotes folk.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2011.