MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the extension of the "no power disconnection" policy for "lifeliners" or low-income Filipinos this February to help them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of his aides said on Thursday.
In a meeting of the Duterte Cabinet on Wednesday, the energy department told the President that lifeliners consume around 100 kilowatt-hours. While they comprise around 32 percent of the customer base, they only account for 3 percent of electricity sales, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Lifeliners typically have 3 lightbulbs in their home, a radio and "limited" appliances, said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque.
Hence, the energy department recommended that the "no power disconnection" policy for lifeliners, which "is very doable", be "continued," he said.
"The President readily agreed, given that electricity is a basic necessity our countrymen cannot live without," Nograles told reporters in an online briefing.
"Makakahinga na po nang malalim ang ating mga kababayan na malalim o walang kita. Hindi po kayo mapuputulan ng kuryente," he added.
(Our countrymen with no or low income can now breathe deeply. You won't lose electricity.)
The policy would be in place through February, Roque said in a separate briefing.
The President is urging Congress to pass a law that would extend to 2051 the subsidized electricity rates for lifeliners, which would end in the middle of this year, he said instead.