Philreca expresses support to House bills supporting 'warriors of light'

THE Technical Working Group of the House Committee on Energy, the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (Philreca), expressed its unequivocal support to House bills (HB) that support linemen of electric cooperatives or the so-called "warriors of light."

Philreca has supported HB 471 or the Lineman Training Academy Act; HB 472 or the National Linemen Appreciation Day Act; HB 3247 o or the Lineworker Appreciation and Benefits Act; and HB 7058 or the Distribution Utility Covid-19 Assistance, Relief, and Energy Subsidy Act or DU-Cares.

“Our so-called Warriors of Lights deserve nothing less than recognition and appreciation for what they are doing. Any assistance that we can extend to them deserves the government's attention and utmost priority,” said lawyer Janeene Depay-Colingan, Philreca's executive director and general manager.

Colingan said Philreca, along with its 121-member electric cooperatives, has for many times in the last few years celebrated and recognized the invaluable contribution of the linemen of electric cooperatives in their quest for inclusive and sustainable development through rural electrification.

The State’s recognition and appreciation of linemen, through House Bill 472, is a huge boost to the Warriors of Light’s morale, not only this time of the pandemic but more so, as they risk their lives every day in accomplishing their tasks, Colingan added.

As to the creation of a Lineman Training Academy, Colingan agreed that the Academy will “fully institutionalize the practices of the linemen. Not only will it create a pool of available skilled and talented linemen, but it will also facilitate and ensure continuous learning and enhancement of skills of existing linemen.”

She suggested that the academy should “ensure adherence to global standards through international linkages and provide access to state-of-the-art facilities in the execution of its programs.”

While some resource persons expressed concerns on the effect of the provisions of HB 3247 to the prevailing tariff, Philreca expressed strong support to the measure, which, among other things, provides for additional insurance coverage and benefits worth not less than P1 million, the premium of which shall be shouldered by the employer.

“In the same light that our linemen take care of us by ensuring and keeping the lights on, we owe it to them to ensure that they are effectively covered financially and economically should any unexpected events happen to them,” said Colingan.

While the 121 electric cooperatives support the intent of House Bill No. 7058 (DU-Cares), Philreca recommended the review and possible consideration for merger of another bill (HB 7073 or An Act Institutionalizing Installment Payment Scheme on Basic Utility and for Other Purposes), which aims to protect both end-users and utility companies on changes in circumstances in the energy demand and collection efficiency in the case of ECs brought about by the pandemic.

HB 7073 mandated a moratorium on payments of utility bills in the entire duration of a state of calamity, protecting not only the end-users from utility companies but also the distribution utilities from their power suppliers.

The Technical Working Group approved House Bills 471, 472, and 3247, leaving and scheduling 7058 for another TWG session. All bills were filed by Power Bloc Representatives Presley C. De Jesus (Philreca PL), Sergio C. Dagooc (Apec PL), Godofredo N. Guya (Recoboda PL), and Adriano A. Ebcas (Ako Padayon Pilipino PL). (Chris Navarro)


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