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Every peso counts: Lifeline rate subsidy program saves more

Nearly every household today is grappling with the high cost of living, a burden that's especially felt by those who rely solely on their daily earnings.

Rosalinda ‘Inday’ Bangcaya, a 46-year-old working mother, relies on every peso she earns from her side hustle of doing the laundry to cover her two children’s school allowance and their daily sustenance.

“Kalisod gid kang pangabuhi. Wara pa sa bugas, wara pa sa allowance ka mga bata (Our living is very tight. With the price of rice and the allowance of my children),” Inday, as she is fondly called in their community, shared the struggle in meeting the needs of her family.

The Bangcaya family, residents of Laua-an town in Antique province, has been a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since 2008.Their two children are currently 14 and 17 years old, both attending Grade 9 and Grade 12, respectively.

Their main source of livelihood is rice farming on the piece of land they are leasing. However, Inday noted that this source of income is only seasonal as rice farming typically takes more or less 90 days before the harvest.

“Kun nami ang tanom, nami man ang garab. Kis-a nagalambot sa 25 ka pasong ang malimpyo namon nga huray. (If the planting is good, the harvest will also be good. Sometimes, we receive 25 sacks of rice as share.),” Inday added.

To ease their pocket. 45-year-old working mother Rosalinda Bangcaya in front of their humble abode in a rural village in Laua-an town, Antique province expressed gratitude to the government for implementing the Lifeline Rate Subsidy Program. Photo: PIA Region 6

Hence, the government's Lifeline Rate Subsidy program will provide relief for their expenses, especially in terms of their electricity bill.

“Nami gid kay makapahagan-hagan sa bulsa. Imbes nga pambayad sa kuryente, magamit ko para sa anda allowance (It will ease our pocket. Instead of using the money to pay for electricity, I may use it already for the allowance of my children),” she gladly said.

Based on the DSWD 6 report, the Bangcaya family is just one of the 328,239 households benefiting from the 4Ps program as of August 2023. They are also among the 536,998 households in Western Visayas categorized as poor under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) also known as the Listahanan 3.0 of July 2022.  

These households are eligible to participate in the program as outlined in Republic Act No. 11552, which was enacted in May 2021. The act extends and improves the implementation of the Lifeline Rate, enabling families like the Bangcayas to qualify for the program and ensuring they continue to receive discounts on their electricity bills.

Some frequently asked questions (FAQs) cards regarding the Lifeline Rate Subsidy Program. Photos courtesy of the Antique Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ANTECO)

Further, the marginalized end-users who may apply for the program.are those member-consumers or customers with monthly power consumption below 100 kilowatt hours (kWh).

In an interview with the Department of Energy (DOE) Visayas Field Office - Energy Industry Management Division chief Engr. Jose Rey Maleza also noted that the scale of rate reduction varies depending on the prevailing rates of the distribution utilities.

In the case of the Antique Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ANTECO), where the Bangcaya family is a member-consumer, offers its existing approved lifeline rate, subsidy, and consumption threshold until a new one is approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). This consists of a 5% discount on the monthly power bill for those with 16 kWh to 20 kWh and 7% for those with 15 kWh and below consumption.

To note, Bangcaya family has a minimal monthly electricity consumption averaging only to 9 kWh. 

They primarily use their electricity connection to operate two 13-watt rechargeable LED bulbs for lighting their home and to charge their mobile devices.

Moreover, Engr.Maleza reminded the qualified household beneficiaries to register in order to avail the government program.

“Although you are members of the 4Ps, still you must be registered or get enlisted through your respective power distribution utilities (DUs) or electric cooperatives (ECs) to be included in the program,” Maleza emphasized.

Department of Energy (DOE) Visayas Field Office - Energy Industry Management Division chief Engr. Jose Rey Maleza explains the guidelines on the implementation of the improved Lifeline Rate Subsidy program of the government pursuant to Republic Act No. 11552 during the online Kapihan program dubbed “PIA Talk Shop” of the PIA Region VI, September 1. Photo: PIA Region 6

To apply for the Lifeline Rate program, households that are beneficiaries of 4Ps need to submit a duly accomplished application form, their most recent electricity bill, and a valid government-issued identification card (ID) that includes their signature and address to their Distribution Utilities (DUs) or Electric Cooperatives (ECs).

On the other hand, other marginalized end-users who are not part of the 4Ps beneficiaries but are part of households listed by the DSWD must provide a certification from their local Social Welfare Development Office (SWDO), issued within six months prior to the application, indicating their family income at the time of application. They also need to submit a duly accomplished form, their most recent electricity bill, and a government-issued ID with their signature and address to their DUs.

For concerns and other queries of the ANTECO power consumers, they may visit the nearest branch office in their area or contact the EC through these phone numbers (036) 540-9684 or (036) 541-6360.

Power consumers in other areas of the region may contact their respective DUs or ECs to inquire about the rate and registration process.

  • Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO) 
    (036) 275-8327, hotline number 144, or Helpline: 09088914564
  • Capiz Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CAPELCO) 
    (036) 634-0282 or 634-0623;
The Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CENECO) conducts a Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign dubbed as “Pulong-pulong Sa Barangay,” August 17, at Brgy. Katilingban Covered Court in Talisay City, Negros Occ. The IEC campaign included discussion on the new and improved Lifeline Rate Subsidy Discount Program of the government that would benefit qualified marginalized end-users of power utilities and electric cooperatives. Photo courtesy of CENECO
  • Iloilo I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ILECO 1)
    (033) 511 8138 or 0917-314-4006
  • Iloilo II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ILECO 2)
    (033) 529 8063
  • Iloilo III Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ILECO 3)
    (033) 392-0388 or (033) 327 0663
  • MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE) covering Iloilo City
    330-6673, +639 19 072 0626 or +63 917 637 5214
  • Northern Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NONECO)
  • Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CENECO)
    (034) 458 6777, 0949-401-0144 or 0967-471-5122
  • Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NOCECO)
    (034) 4712-229, 4712-339, 09173108814 or 09985702725

The ERC may also be reached through their Lifeline Program hotline number (02) 8689-5372 local 5222 for Pasig City, (63) 905-343-2292 for Cebu City, or (63) 956-305-3313 for Davao City.

Indeed, as the American philosopher Benjamin Franklin once said, "a penny saved is a penny earned." Every peso saved by individuals like Inday and other beneficiaries of this program can make a meaningful contribution to their financial well-being and provide much-needed relief to their budgets. (AAL/FRG/PIA6)

About the Author

Franz Remar Garion

Region 6

Indicium gladio fortior est

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