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NEA may finance relocation of power lines for Boracay rehab

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Boracay NEA
PHILSTAR

THE NATIONAL Electrification Administration (NEA) said the agency can provide soft loans to relocate power lines as part of Boracay’s rehabilitation, but will not subsidize the projected losses of Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco) due to the resort island’s six-month closure.

“What we can do now, they are asking for help for the relocation of lines as part of the rehab on Boracay. That could cost P82 million. We will make sure that we’ll provide that amount but initially that would be through soft loan,” Administrator Edgardo R. Magsosong told reporters after a Senate hearing on the status of electrification efforts.

Mr. Magsosong was responding to statements issued by Akelco, which plans collect a P1.58 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) increase in power rates to cushion its losses due to the closure of Boracay. It has also appealed to NEA for a subsidy for its projected loss.

“NEA has no subsidy for that. I don’t know what they mean when they ask the government to subsidize but definitely not NEA, not DoE (Department of Energy). That should not be the case because we don’t have money for that,” he said.

Akelco has noted that Boracay consumes a daily average of 27 to 28 megawatts, which will drop about 84% due to the closure.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, said the P1.58 per kWh increase in power rates in Aklan was too high.

“I don’t think it should be that high as that… we might need to review that computation,” he told reporters.

He said the government could look into tapping calamity funds to subsidize Akelco’s expected losses since the closure was an unforeseeable circumstance.

Also on Monday, Senator Cynthia A. Villar said the six-month closure may not be enough to rehabilitate the island due to the infrastructure issues that needed to be fixed, especially the island’s drainage and sewer systems.

“I’m not agreeing but… I don’t think they will finish everything in six months. They will open it even if it’s not finished, I think,” she told reporters on Monday.

Ms. Villar, who chairs of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, noted that the government would have to deal with the demolition of establishments which violate the 30-meter easement rule or those constructed in protected areas in violation of environmental rules.

Senator Nancy S. Binay, who chairs the Senate committee on tourism, urged the government to disclose its timetable for the rehabilitation, “so that we can monitor if the plans are followed.”

Boracay business owners will meet with government officials on Tuesday to discuss the impending closure of the resort island on April 26.

Property developer Vista Land and Lifescapes, Inc., which is chaired by Ms. Villar’s husband, former Senate president Manuel B. Villar, Jr., acquired the 54-room Boracay Sands Hotel, and through its condominium arm Vista Residences, developed Costa Vista Boracay in 2016. — Camille A. Aguinaldo