National Electrification Administration (NEA) Deputy Administrator Sonia San Diego has been designated as officer-in-charge, following the exit of Edgardo R. Masongsong, who was booted out as Administrator of the agency on allegations of corruption.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte has made the announcement over the weekend on his decision to fire the NEA chief because of corruption charges filed against him at the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

NEA indicated that San Diego’s stint as OIC will just be temporary – and that will stay until the replacement of Masongsong will already be appointed by Malacanang.

At this stage, the personalities being floated as prospective NEA Administrator include Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel P. Juaneza; former Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative General Manager Ashary Maongco; and Atty Rhett Mislang, who is currently with the Legal Services Division of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

After its meeting this week, the NEA Board issued a resolution stipulating that “after discussion and deliberation, the Board of Administrators agreed to designate and assign Deputy Administrator for Corporate Resources and Financial Services Sonia San Diego as OIC effective August 24, 2021.”

The agency specified that San Diego’s OIC designation shall be “until such time that an Administrator is duly appointed by the Office of the President.”

In the last year stretch of the Duterte administration, NEA has been accelerating the electrification program of the government – including the targeted 100-percent connection of households and sitios that the current State leadership has promised to be accomplished at the end of its term next year.

The electrification agency previously sounded off that it lacks budget in completely pursuing the government’s electrification goal, hence, it has been seeking for higher allocation from the Department of Budget and Management.

NEA nevertheless noted that when it comes to household electrification, the performance of the country’s electric cooperatives had been considerably outstanding – because out of the 14.34 million households to be provided with electricity access, around 14.25 million customers had already been connected as of reckoning date this year.

It was qualified though that such household connection target was still based on 2015 census; and with the updating on the country’s statistics on population, that could have expanded way bigger by now.

On that premise then, the electrification agency is also fighting for higher budget that must be earmarked for the electricity service connections of new customers so the ECs could at least accelerate projects once the pandemic wanes.

Energy access in the far-flung communities and rural areas of the country is considered paramount so quality of life could improve and economic activities be stimulated in these jurisdictions that had so far been neglected for years. ###

Source: Manila Bulletin (