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DOE orders restoration of electricity in 7 Lanao towns



By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – The Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered the immediate restoration of electricity in seven Lanao del Sur towns on intercession of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, who visited one of the towns lately and discovered the rein of darkness in such localities since 2012.
In his Facebook post Saturday, Piñol said DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi issued the order promptly at a meeting in his office in Taguig City on Friday with the mayors and representatives of Malabang, Picong, Balabagan, Kapatagan, Calanogas, Pagayawan and Marogong, all of Lanao del Sur.
“Sec. Cusi cut short an engagement in the Bicol Region…to meet with mayors and representatives of (concerned) towns who flew to Manila on Thursday to air their complaints on the failure of the government to deliver electric power to (their communities),” Piñol said.
Lanao del Sur, which has 39 towns with Marawi City as its capital seat, is the main service area of the Lanao del Sur
Electric Cooperative (LASURECO), which the agriculture chief described as “corruption-wracked.”
“The Mayors were unanimous in their position to get out of the control of LASURECO which owes the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines an estimated P10-B in unpaid power bills,” Piñol said.
Piñol said he discovered the absence of electricity in the seven towns when he visited Malabang town on Thursday to award resident fishermen fiberglass boats given by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
At a forum in Malabang town, Piñol said, he proposed the establishment of an ice plant in the area to preserve fish and other marine products.
“My suggestion was met with blank stares by people who then informed me that the ice plant could not be built (in their community) because the town does not have electric power,” he said.
He said he was shocked at the stark feedback, knowing that the province hosts the Lake Lanao, which is the major source of hydroelectricity allover Mindanao.
From the Malabang forum, Sec. Piñol brought the mayors and representatives of the seven towns to Metro Manila on Thursday for them to voice their concerns directly to DOE officials.
“After a briefing of less than 30 minutes by me and DOE Undersecretary Pete Ilagan, Sec. Cusi ordered that a team will be sent to inspect the power lines and other facilities in the towns of Picong, Malabang, Marogong, Balabagan, Calanogas, Kapatagan and Pagayawan,” Piñol said.
He said the complaining municipal officials preferred to be served by the electric cooperatives in Maguindanao and Lanao de Norte after the seven towns’ power lines shall have been repaired.
It may be recalled that the whole of Lanao del Sur plunged into total darkness when local guerillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front toppled down close to 1,500 electric posts in the province sometime in 1988.
The national government has since been undertaking snail-paced repair works, notably in the first district of Lanao del Sur including Marawi City. But electricity in areas with repaired power lines has been fluctuating for years in a fashion that former Masiu town Mayor Mino Arimao described as “worse than the light facilities for poultry areas in other parts of the country.” (Ali G. Macabalang)
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