April 20, 2024

The linemen of the country’s electric cooperatives got a stellar billing when the first Lineman Appreciation Day on Aug. 3 gave a toast to their role as frontliners of the power industry.
Rep. Presley de Jesus of Philreca Party-list led Cordillera’s salute to the line workers at the Benguet Electric Cooperative’s Dumol Hall by citing two measures filed in Congress to recognize their backbreaking tasks, particularly that of ensuring the steady supply of power during the pandemic.
House Bill 471 called for the lower chamber to declare every first Monday of August as Lineman Appreciation Day while HB 3247 wanted to give an insurance benefit of P1 million for each lineman.
The bills were filed by the so-called “Power Bloc” of the House of Representatives – de Jesus of Philreca, Sergio Dago-oc of APEC, Godofredo Guya of Recoboda, and Adriano Ebcas of Ako Padayon Pilipino.
De Jesus said it is high time the linemen be given credit as vital stakeholders in the electric distribution industry since they are dispatched everyday to see to it that there will be no unscheduled power interruption that could disrupt household activities and industrial and commercial production.
“We are aware that you carry the burden of inspecting power lines, replacing busted transformers and erecting poles, among others, that could put your lives in danger,” de Jesus told Beneco’s linemen.
The five electric cooperatives in the region have 310 linemen – Beneco (91); Kalinga Apayao Electric Cooperative (38), Abra Electric Cooperative (105), Mountain Province Electric Cooperative (37), and Ifugao Electric Cooperative 39.
At Beneco, it has become part of its corporate social responsibility to provide a lineman training program for those who could not attend college.
Since 2005, the program has trained more than 600 graduates in 21 batches. Some of them were employed by the electric cooperatives in the region or were hired as project employees for line maintenance.
“The linemen are often dispatched to address damages to the electric lines during disasters and there is always danger whenever they climb the poles,” lawyer Janeene Depay-Colingan, Philreca general manager and executive director, said.
Colingan, who joined De Jesus at the Beneco celebration, said, “The work of a lineman has remained to be one of the most underappreciated jobs in the country.”
The Department of Energy during the pandemic directed all ECs in the country to ensure the flow of electricity and avoid incurring unexpected power disturbance.
The ECs in the region temporarily suspended some of their operations like meter reading, disconnection, member consumer engagement, and infrastructure. The inspection and maintenance activities of the linemen, however, continued.
Melchor Licoben, officer-in-charge Beneco general manager, lauded the linemen for being committed to their job but he challenged them to hurdle today’s shift of responsibility in the power industry.
“Before, you focused on doing the leg work for sitio energization. Today, you have to see to it that once the switch is on, there must be light,” he said. – Delmar Cariño