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Lawmaker seeks to double budget for power cooperatives

A SENATOR asked his fellow lawmakers on Monday to double the 2021 budget for the restoration of power facilities damaged by recent typhoons.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who heads the energy committee, said the additional subsidy would help electric cooperatives restore their power lines and infrastructure.

In a statement, The lawmaker proposed another P550 million on top of the P200-million fund for electric cooperatives nationwide. The budget is managed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

Typhoon Vamco, locally named Ulyssess, killed at least 73 people and damaged P151.4 billion worth of power facilities, according to estimates by the agency.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed a resolution asking the Social Welfare department to fast-track the release of funds for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic and recent typhoons.

The Senate found that the agency had not released P75 billion from its 2020 budget and P6.7 billion under twin laws that provided subsidies to the poor amid the pandemic.

At Monday’s session, Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said the funds would greatly ease the suffering of farmers who lost their crops to the typhoons.

The past three typhoons that hit Luzon island caused P10 billion worth of crop and fishery damage, according to the Agriculture department.

Also on Monday, Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco said the House probe of flooding in several parts of Luzon would seek “long-term solutions” and not just find fault.

“We hope to hear everyone’s side and get a clearer picture of the events that transpired when Typhoon Ulysses struck and caused widespread flooding in Luzon,” he said in a statement. “The aim here is to come up with solutions and legislation, if needed, to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and properties during typhoons.”

The House agriculture committee has invited officials from the National Irrigation Administration and the local governments of Cagayan and Isabela for Tuesday’s hearing. — Angelica Y. Yang, Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Charmaine A. Tadalan

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