THE National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Electric Cooperatives (ECs) celebrated another milestone in the Rural Electrification Program, the 15 millionth consumer connection, on August 17, 2022.
The man of the hour, a 45-year-old rebel-returnee and leader of the Umayamnon tribe, Datu Sumusunod Jimmy Man-anohog Sr., was named as the 15 millionth consumer. After living in the dark for more than four decades of his life, he finally enjoys the benefits of electricity. He is one of the beneficiaries of the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) implemented by NEA in partnership with Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc. (Aselco) and the Provincial Government of Agusan del Sur. "Nagpapasalamat kami sa NEA at Aselco. Sila po ang nagbigay-liwanag sa amin na mahihirap. Sana po ipagpatuloy ninyo ang inyong tungkulin," ("We thank NEA and Aselco. They are the ones who enlightened us who are poor. I hope you will continue your duty,") Datu Sumusunod said.
Datu Sumusunod and his tribe have a long history of moving from one place to another due to harsh realities. They became members of the insurgent group New People's Army. In 2007, the Umayamnon tribe surrendered to the 28th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the term of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. With the help of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the efforts of the government of Agusan del Sur led by the late peacemaker Josefina Bajade, the surrenderees were resettled in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. Out of gratitude, Datu Sumusunod has since helped in the peace negotiation and sparked a new wave of development in the rebel-returnee community.
Notwithstanding the challenges in transporting poles and other electrical materials due to the difficult terrain, Aselco managed to bring light to the community with the help of the Umayamnon tribe itself. "I would like to thank every powerful hand and mind who contributed to make this day happen. I am touched by the story of Datu Sumusunod, nga despite sa ilang struggles, wala silang nihunong ug pagpangandoy nga makabaton ug kahayag sa ilang kinabuhi (that despite their struggles, they never stopped believing that light would come into their lives)," Aselco General Manager Emmanuel Galarse mentioned during the ceremony.
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NEA Administrator Emmanuel Juaneza, together with San Francisco Mayor Grace Carmel Paredes-Bravo, New Visayas Barangay Captain Jerry Donasco, Aselco General Manager Emmanuel Galarse, Aselco Board Vice President Hilario Turla, Deputy Administrator for EC Management Services Omar Mayo, and Datu Sumusunod, led the ceremonial switch-on at Purok 8, Brgy. New Visayas, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Avalota Cejas, some NEA officials and employees, and officers of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives Inc. (Amreco) also attended the event.
"Ang pag-abot sa 15 millionth connection ay naglalarawan sa laki at lawak ng serbisyong ipinaaabot natin sa ating mga kababayan sa pamamagitan ng ating matatag na kooperasyon. Kami ay nagtitiwala na ang tagumpay na ito ay patuloy na magbibigay-inspirasyon sa ating lahat upang manatiling matatag sa pagtupad ng ating mandato," ("Reaching the 15 millionth connection illustrates the size and scope of the service we provide to our citizens through our strong cooperation. We are confident that this success will continue to inspire us all to remain steadfast in fulfilling our mandate,") Juaneza said as he vows to strengthen the partnership of NEA, ECs and the LGUs to achieve the total electrification and sustainable rural development in the country.
The symbolic energization was held simultaneously at the NEA Headquarters in Quezon City, led by NEA Deputy Administrator for Corporate Resources and Financial Services Sonia San Diego. This historic event is one of the highlights of the agency's 53rd anniversary celebration and the commemoration of the 13th National Electrification Awareness Month with the theme, "NEA at ECs: Magkatuwang sa Pag-unlad at Pagkakaisa tungo sa Bagong Pag-asa."