By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor

Cusi meets Meralco on servicing poor

Posted on July 08, 2016

ENERGY Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi met with Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) President Oscar S. Reyes on Thursday, advising the distribution utility to “service the people who need our help the most.”

Mr. Cusi cited those in the crowded informal settlements of Smokey Mountain, Payatas and Muntinlupa.

He said these are the people President Rodrigo R. Duterte promised to serve, even choosing to hold a “solidarity dinner” with them in Tondo after he was sworn into office on June 30.

DoE said Mr. Cusi discussed with Meralco officials the utility’s pre-paid electricity service, which allows the poor to have access to electricity. He recommended to the company to check on relocation sites, which could be potential fire hazards.

“Let us help especially the marginalized. I want the general public to feel that the government is doing something to better their lives by providing adequate electricity with lower rates so they will be able to afford other necessities such as more food on the table,” he said.

“I will let my team coordinate with you [Meralco] and let’s have weekly meetings. Let us coordinate also for disaster preparedness, initiate a joint task force especially now being the rainy season,” he added.

Meanwhile, former energy chief Zenaida Y. Monsada is recommending the setting up of the Department of Energy (DoE) in key areas in the country, saying the provision of electricity is critical and that consumers want the agency’s presence in the provinces.

“The DoE has a staff of less than 800, and we are a nationwide frontline agency. We’re smaller than a bureau in other departments,” Ms. Monsada said in a recent interview.

She said the department needs a regional office for southern Luzon to at least complement one in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, for northern Luzon, one in Cebu City for the Visayas and another in Davao City for Mindanao.

Ms. Monsada said among her requests for Mr. Cusi is “appropriate staffing” because of the big expectations on the department.

“We have a lot of things to do, but we are undermanned,” she said in Filipino, adding that the DoE also needs additional budget.

She said the DoE staff works alongside those of the “energy family,” including state agencies in the sector as well as private entities. She said their counterparts enjoy better benefits and compensation, adding that the ideal headcount for DoE would be at least double the current 800.