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Man of Power: Duterte’s Legacy Should Include 100% Electrification

Three years into Rodrigo Duterte’s (PRRD) presidency, the Mayor from Mindanao has fulfilled promise after promise. From the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program that is going full swing, to progressive economic and social reforms, the country has been doing very well on most fronts. But there is work left to be done, specially when it comes to providing the basic need of power supply.

This administration’s objective of a “comfortable life for all” surely includes 100% electrification – that every barrio and sitio across our archipelago may have access to power. If we have to install solar microgrids on every islet, then so be it. Leave no Filipino behind.

Duterte’s Plan for Energy

Naysayers claim PRRD isn’t doing enough for alternative energy. That his SONA 2019 pronouncement was nothing but hot air (here’s to wind turbines!). Read his statement below:

“We recognize the urgent need to ensure the sustainability and availability of resources, and the development of alternative ones. In this regard, I trust Secretary Cusi shall fast-track also the development of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on the traditional energy sources such as coal.”

Alas, last week, doubters were silenced, as PRRD signed into law the bill that grants a quarter-century franchise to Solar Para sa Bayan Corporation (SPSBC).

The solar company is headed by Leandro Leviste, who is championing solar energy as the future of the Philippines.

While the path towards a country fully or largely embracing sustainable energy is steep and winding, the young Leviste is resolute. Simply because while this recent development grants SPSBC opportunities for growth, it is the benefit to Filipinos where its true value lies. If solar power can slash our electricity costs by half, then we can’t wait. Like its name suggests, Solar Para sa Bayan – it is the people who will truly gain from it.

Solar is the Future

And so it begins. 100% electrification can usher in a golden age of manufacturing. Entire provinces that have long languished with their intermittent power supply can now bring in new business. Investors will take notice of emerging cities and towns.

The opportunities will be endless. From the establishment of large factories to the smallest of lightbulbs shining a light on the study of young children in their humble homes.

The tourism sector will also greatly benefit from a reliable power supply improving their services. From medium-sized hotels to modest guesthouses. It will create a ripple effect across the country.

Can you imagine the huge leaps agricultural modernization can take? Providing electricity for all will truly change the lives of tens of millions of Filipinos.

The Enemy in our Midst, and our Fighting Chance

In PRRD’s SONA 2019 speech, he warned us that we are our own enemies. But whatever we may do to ourselves, within our ranks, against each other, may not be the worst of it.

The President warned of “demons preying on the weak and defenseless” – and we are reminded of the oligarch-owned power companies. Certainly, it is the ordinary Filipino who suffers from absurdly high electricity costs. When there are blackouts in provincial cities, what choice do we have? What weight do our words and social media posts carry against the billionaire businessmen hiding behind disconnection notices and the high walls of their ivory towers?

We simply play their game, with rules written by them. So be it. But give us a fighting chance.

That’s what alternative energy and lower cost of electricity gives Filipinos – a fighting chance. With every small business that grows, with every town whose economy picks up – this country redeems itself. We acknowledge the enemy in the mirror. And we are prepared to rise to the challenge. All we ask for is a fighting chance. That will be the Duterte legacy.

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