MANILA — A Senate panel on Wednesday approved the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) worth PHP2.659 billion, which is 0.05 percent higher than its budget this year — PHP2.657 billion.
During the hearing, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi presented his agency’s strategic directions for 2017 to 2040 which included efforts to ensure energy security; expand energy access, promote a low carbon future; strengthen collaboration among all government agencies involved in energy; implement, monitor and integrate sectoral and technological roadmaps and action plans; advocate the passage of the department’s legislative agenda; strengthen consumer welfare and protection; and foster stronger international relations and partnerships.
Cusi also enumerated the agency’s nine-point energy agenda which included the goal of having access to basic electricity for all Filipinos by 2022; adopting a technology neutral approach for an optimal energy mix; improving the supply of reliable power; developing needs for the future in anticipation of the Malampaya depletion; facilitating the completion of transmission projects by 2020; pro-consumer distribution framework for affordability, choice and transparency; streamlining domestic policy to cut red tape; deliver on PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp) privatization; and promoting efficient use of power among consumers.
The Senate Committee on Finance, led by Senator Loren Legarda, eventually, passed the budget and had it moved for plenary debates.
Legarda quipped that the DOE budget was passed quickly since Cusi is “one of the most amiable cabinet members” under the Duterte administration.
Meanwhile, some of the DOE’s attached agencies had to return for further questioning upon the request of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, wanted the Philippine National Oil Co. to present and elaborate its feasibility study on the development of a 220-hectare Bataan property into an energy hub. (PNA)