April 15, 2024

ATOK, Benguet – It took 67 years for Larry Moltio, a resident of Barangay Topdac, to finally see his barangay with electric connection. Thanks to the government’s rural electrification program.

On Oct. 8, the 67-year-old Moltio, along with representatives of the first 17 households that now have electricity, and other residents of Sitios Poshongan and Topdac witnessed the ceremonial switch-on of lights signaling that both sitios are the latest beneficiaries of the Sitio Energization Program (SEP) of the National Electrification Administration, implemented by Benguet Electric Cooperative.

Moltio, who now spends most of his time in La Trinidad, said he will apply for electric connection and might even stay longer in the village where he grew up.

Teachers of Topdac Elementary School also expressed their gladness that more areas in the municipality have electric connection.

TES principal Anicia Awas said 107 learners of the school will surely benefit from the project, especially with the distant learning modality employed by the government to ensure that education continues even when classroom instruction is prohibited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To energize both sitios, Beneco spent P2 million for the put-up of 40 poles connecting 1.5-kilometer primary lines and three-kilometer secondary lines.

Beneco OIC General Manager Melchor Licoben said he hopes more areas in the province will be energized albeit plans to speed up the SEP in the municipality have been stalled as some funds allotted by the NEA had to be diverted for the government’s Covid-19 response.

For 2020, NEA has allotted P5M for the energization of seven areas in the municipality. To energize the entire town, P12M more is needed, Licoben said. NEA has also allotted P200M for the SEP. From this amount, P80M was supposed to be for Benguet.

Licoben said he hopes that by 2021, NEA will release funds as previously budgeted while he is also banking on the commitment of Benguet caretaker Eric Yap who pledged to look for other sources of funds to allow Beneco to complete energization in its franchise area.

Beneco officials said areas with electric connection will help spur economic development.

Echoing the aspiration of his constituents, Mayor Raymundo Sarac said he hopes more sitios will be energized.

“More lights help in crime prevention and it makes life more convenient especially students who are into blended learning,” Sarac said.

There are 3,158 sitios in Beneco’s franchise area where 2,516 have been provided electricity under the SEP. – Rimaliza A. Opiña