MAGPET, North Cotabato – The Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco), the province’s power provider, launched on Thursday afternoon the lighting of 143 households in two remote sub-villages here – both former encounter zones between government forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas.
Jay Gonzaga, executive assistant of Mayor Florenito Gonzaga, and Jupiter Rubino, the municipal administrator and concurrent member of the Cotelco’s board of directors, led the separate onsite ceremonial switch-on before the recipients of the energization program in the adjoining areas.
“This is the promising mission of the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP), which is to bring electricity to the countryside to increase progress and attain sustainable development,” Rubino said.
The activity energized 60 households in remote Sitio Natuyukan, Barangay Balite, and 83 houses in Sitio Kirundong, Barangay Kinarum – both Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) communities on the hilly part of this town.
The beneficiaries only paid PHP117 with a free 30-meter drop wire, kilowatt meter, two bulbs, and a power outlet added with free-of-charge household installation.
As a counterpart, the local government unit offered the free issuance of building and electrical permits to reduce the burden of beneficiaries to comply with Cotelco’s prerequisite requirements.
“We will continue to grant options that could minimize your monetary requirements to avail (of) this significant project, such as this (electrification) for you,” Gonzaga told the beneficiaries in the vernacular.
According to Rubino, the Ubo Manuvu settlers have long been waiting to experience the benefit of electrification that could help their livelihood and respond to their students’ needs at home.
The villages were once a haven of insurgents due to their terrain and distance from the town proper.
Residents were often forced to evacuate to safer grounds due to atrocities.
“Now we can really see the benefits of electricity and it’s worth it after the long wait,” Danny Enoc, the leader of Sitio Natuyukan, said in Manobo language.
Rubino said the SEP would energize soon three other sub-villages here targeting 114 households in Sitio Bantaan, Bagumbayan; Sitio Tribal, Barangay Imamaling; and Sitio Malinao II in Barangay Magcaalam.
The SEP, a nationally-funded program under the National Electrification Administration, pursues rural electrification for countryside development.
The Cotelco has a total of 37 sitios (sub-villages) in the province to be energized under the program this year. (PNA)