Let there be light! The cry of the poor.

Writing this story about friends living in the Philippines who resides along the rail ways particularly In San Antonio Village Makati in 1998.  They were all relocated now by the government, however I want to share the experience they have in connection with the implementation of a Law.  Anti Pilferage law that has greatly affected them.  REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7832 AN ACT PENALIZING THE PILFERAGE OF ELECTRICITY AND THEFT OF POWER TRANSMISSION LINES/MATERIALS, RATIONALIZING SYSTEM LOSSES BY PHASING OUT PILFERAGE LOSSES AS A COMPONENT THEREOF, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.  It is a social reality that there are those living in shanties near the rail road, river banks and other private lots. Many of those structure I mentioned were mostly having electric powers illegally.  They put jumpers from electric post . Many of them have small appliances and electric lights connected illegally by people who collected money for their services.

Electricity is a need, This issue of electrification was there for a long time and that time solution of giving them legal connection was not offered by Meralco, they just cut the power lines then people will restore it again illegally.

When this Law was passed,  people from Meralco send some survey per household for possible electrification of the area.  After collecting all the community data they came back for a meeting among the residents.  On that said meeting they were all surprised with the change of event. They were loaded up on a van and was send to prison on the case filed against them on Anti Pilferage Law. Each family were charge base on the document they submitted indicating the number of years they stayed in the area and number of appliances they used among others.  No much help is there since people are afraid they will be incriminated as well. This was a very hot issue.

The men and the ladies,  young and old were send among the jail inmates in the city. They are not hardened criminals why are they not separated from the inmates. Met with the Police Chief regarding the case  and the court office ask each one to get a bail for three thousand each for their release.  It’s hard for those people working as tricycle drivers, carpenters, plumbers, fish vendors, housemates to get that kind of money. It’s almost a monthly salary for others working in restaurants, messengers among others. The sad part of it is that there were search warrant still to be served that time and people starts asking if they need to go to the police station.  It was chaos, people don’t know what to do. People hide, scared for another round up, amidst the problem of getting money to bail their families.

The Barangay council and the officers of the PNR community,  got people in place to get involve in securing bail for the families. Raised funds, donations, seek money lenders just to make sure they are released.   It was a bad experience for a each one.

I would still recall one peace officer “Tanod” of the community who was among arrested hysterically  asking for help after being in there for some days in jail afraid of being assaulted up by inmates he send to jail. Children affected and worried about their parents in jail and issue about elders getting sick.

I learned from the bail bond personnel that there are police given percentage of the money they collected. It was a part of system.

The first hearing was heard in court with a legal representative from the Urban poor. That volunteer attorney was given just token of donations from residents. We also have public attorney, Each case is different, some case were for more than P30,000. and some P10,000 depending on the electric consumption they had.  This is no way solution as they can not afford any of this amount.

I went to some friends from the corporate office of Maralco to help us. The corporate secretary who was a partner on community program we have in Makati YMCA for out of school youth assisted us with their legal Department.  They allowed us to settle it with a P 5,000.00 each case providing they will have a legal connection on the area. On the final judgement of the court they were all release upon payment of the approved amount. It was one of the happiest  moment of my life. A humble servant, as their Attorney,  personally representing them in court seeing joy in their eyes. Our sacrifices paid off, people elated, cheering, shouting from the court corridors to the street. Shout of freedom.  Thanking Jesus.

Program for electrification.  Meet with people from Meralco office  to discuss how to legally put up each family power meter.  Design and cost was prepared by Meralco with the Barangay councils all out support. Support from the City and Public officials was poured in to finish this program on time.

As a councilor of that village, we created an urban development committee where we started data collection and mapping for the area. This documents we made were used not only for electrical purposes but for other issues that they will face in the future like relocation.

They had their houses lighted with no fear.  Children where able to study not with candles but lights. A happy day for everyone and a lesson in life. Hope they would stop this illegal power connection as it is the paying resident and business who are paying for this expense. It is their risk for being in jail and penalize. There is a need to end this.

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Back ground was the newly installed electric meters for the residents

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Beside me are some of those people always ready to help others.

Medical services provided by the National Shrine of Sacred Heart Parish. This is also a venue where the Church do some Sunday Mass. Parish mission on evangelization.

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A great man beside is Mr. Jun Cabral who opened their house for the youth, and provided them work to be a productive citizen away from crimes and drugs.
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Happy moment with the children during fiesta. 😃

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Reflecting on this, May we be a light for others in time of need. A light of hope. A light for each one in our own work, community and our family. Truly, A lift of hand for help, is A LIGHT FOR LIFE. All for Jesus.

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