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  • By : Laarni S. Ilagan
  • Feb 02, 2024

Number of Lifeliners Down in 2024

By Laarni S. Ilagan
February 2, 2024

BAGUIO CITY: The number of BENECO’s lifeline rate subsidy beneficiaries in Baguio City and Benguet is down to 861 as of January 15, 2023, no thanks to the government’s new law on the grant of lifeline.

The electric cooperative had 80,794 lifeline beneficiaries as of December 2023 but with the passage of RA 11552, the new lifeline law, the number had to go down since the measure redefined who should be considered as lifeliners.

The lifeline subsidy grants member consumers a discount on their monthly power bill.

Under the old set up where the 80,974 consumers belonged, the rate of subsidy or discount was as follows - 41-45 kwh (5%); 36-40 kwh (10%); 31-35 kwh (20%); 26-30 kwh (30%); 1-25 kwh (40%); and 20 kwh and below (50%). This is regardless if they were 4Ps beneficiarie4s or not.

This system was removed as lifeliners under RA 11552 now refer to those beneficiaries of the government’s 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) as well as those who are certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as belonging to the marginalized sector.

This means that around 80,113 lifeline consumers in the original list of BENECO were delisted as the Department of Energy (DOE) directed distribution utilities to implement the new lifeline law on January 1, 2024.

Under the DSWD’s guidelines, the 4Ps beneficiaries and those belonging to the marginalized sector must apply before the distribution utility (DU) to be considered as lifeline consumers. The DSWD was tasked to provide the DU the list of the beneficiaries.

BENECO, being a DU, cannot therefore include the new set of lifeline beneficiaries if their names are not in the DSWD list. Even if their names are in the list if they did not file an application before the electric cooperative, they will not be automatically considered for the subsidy or discount.

The 80,974 consumers under the old system enjoyed a total P2.8 million in discount as of December last year. They were not automatically reinstated as lifeliners since under RA 11552, they have to apply as beneficiaries of the 4Ps or certified by the DSWD as living below the poverty threshold. The 80, 974 consumers enjoyed a total P35.3 million discount for the whole year.

As of January 1, 2024, there were only 861 approved applications of which 839 were 4Ps, and 22 were non-4Ps but were certified by DSWD to belong to the marginalized sector, explained Fraiser Angayen, Non-Network Services Department (NNSD) manager.

The town of Buguias yielded the most number of approved applicants at 251; Mankayan-154; Bakun-86; La Trinidad-86; Atok-52; Kapangan-45; Baguio City-43; Tublay-38; Kibungan-29; Itogon-14; Tuba-13; Sablan-5; Kabayan-2. These were the figures before the January 15 cut off that will be updated soon, according to Angayen.

On January 17, 2024, the DSWD issued the list of delisted 4Ps beneficiaries, meaning they cannot be accepted as lifeline beneficiaries.

The DOE further directed all DUs to “discontinue the grant of the lifeline rate no later than two billing cycles from the time it received the list of delisted 4Ps beneficiaries. The DU shall inform the end-user of his/her delisting based on the latest lists of 4Ps beneficiaries received from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).”

BENECO has started untagging from the subsidy list those who are no longer qualified as early as June 2023.