“In this time of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic, it is important to have a more streamlined approach to our resources and to leave nobody and no place behind. Much of this has to be implemented at the community and the municipal level,” said EU Head of Cooperation Christoph Wagner during the online forum on “Financing Modalities and Tools to Advance Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C) in Local Planning and Development in Visayas & Mindanao.”

“We need to rethink our approach: how to reach out and work together, how to jointly define pipelines and priorities and how to determine the right financing mechanisms accordingly. The EU is happy to provide some support for moving in this direction,” Wagner said.

Held from May 20 to 21, 2021, the forum was jointly hosted by the Philippines’ Department of Energy (DOE), the EU-supported Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (EU ASEP) and the ASEP-Clean Energy Living Laboratories (ASEP-CELLs).

It tackled financing and procurement strategies and tools for implementing local energy efficiency projects aligned with Republic Act (RA) 11285 or the EE&C Act, as well as the Government Energy Management Program (GEMP).

Wagner’s concept of inclusive development is especially true for Mindanao.

“Home to 36 percent of the country’s farm area and producing 43 percent of the country’s total farm produce, the Mindanaoan energy sector’s diverse needs call for a truly localized, tailor-made approach to EE&C,” the DOE said in a statement.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro noted, “We need sources of energy to add value to our agricultural productivity across all areas in Mindanao.” “It is imperative for us to be mindful of and efficient with our energy use. We need to be prudent with sourcing the right types of quality energy when and where they are needed, especially during this pandemic,” he said.

Through its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), Section 43 of the EE&C Act expanded the scope of the GEMP to include all local government units (LGUs).

“The overall goal of the GEMP is to reduce the monthly electricity and fuel consumption of all LGUs by at least 10 percent. The foundation for meeting this target starts with simple yet very doable acts such as reasonable air-conditioning thermostat settings and carpooling,” said DOE – Energy Utilization Management Bureau (EUMB) Director Patrick Aquino.

This was further echoed by DOE Senior Undersecretary Jesus Cristino Posadas who emphasized the importance of multisectoral collaboration.

“We are asking for your commitment in attaining the goal of reducing the government’s monthly electricity and fuel consumption by at least 10 percent, as indicated in the GEMP. This can be achieved through proper planning and aligning this to your fiscal initiatives. Rest assured that the DOE will continue to support your energy efficiency and conservation programs as we progress to a more sustainable future,” he said.