A former top executive of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) has urged member-consumers of the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) to continue raising their voice against the planned entry of the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) into its franchise area or else they would fall into the supposed 'profit motive' of the firm.
Edgrado Masongsong, secretary general of the National Center of Electric Consumers Cooperative (NCECCO), warned Nordeco member consumers that if they allow DLPC to take over several areas of its franchise, the members would turn into 'mere rental payers' of the power distribution company.
Unlike private power companies, which are allowed to raise power rates in the era of deregulation, power coops still continue to consult with their members and even report to them the cooperative's financial status every end of the year.
Masongsong, a former NEA administrator, cited their experience when DLPC tried operating on Samal Island in 1986. They found that they could not rake in profits from the operation, so they turned it over to Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Nordeco's former franchise name, Masongsong said.
'They saw the areas covered by the proposed House bills would generate big revenues, so they slowly creep in to grab these areas,' he said.
Some 4,000 power consumers took to the main thoroughfares in this city on Monday to express their opposition to the impending takeover of the Aboitiz-owned DLPC in several franchise areas of Nordeco.
The peace walk, which started with a mass at the Tagum city cathedral, ended up at the Freedom Park, where speakers took turns lambasting the four House bills that, once approved and signed into law, would allow the DLPC to take over Nordeco's franchise area in Tagum City, Island Garden City of Samal and the towns of Kapalong, Asuncion, San Isidro, New Corella and Talaingod in Davao del Norte, as well as Maco town in Davao de Oro.
Protesters carried huge streamers, which read, 'Respect Nordeco franchise, no to DLPC take over,' 'Ang katawhang Moro dili uyon sa privatization (The Moro people are against privatization)' and 'No to monopoly in the power sector.'
They also signed their names on a manifesto on two enlarged tarpaulins expressing their stand against DLPCs expansion in these areas.
In the manifesto, the Coalition Against the Privatization of Electric Cooperatives (Capec), which convened the event, also asked the national government to give priority to Nordeco and treat electric cooperatives equally with private power companies, especially in the allocation of cheap power sources from the Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power plants.
The group also warned that DLPC's take-over of the Nordeco franchise would eventually result in a monopoly of private-for-profit firms.
It also called for the repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) and for Nordeco and 120 other cooperatives in the country to be given full support by the national government.
Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has re-filed House Bill No. 5077 that seeks to expand DLPC's coverage to the cities of Tagum and Samal, and the towns of Kapalong, Asuncion, San Isidro, New Corella and Talaingod in Davao del Norte as well as Maco in Davao de Oro.
Three other house bills also pushed for DLPC expansion in parts or in whole within Nordeco's franchise area; namely: HB 6995 by Davao de Oro 1st district Rep. Maricar Zamora and Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Alan Dujali; HB 6740 by PBA Rep. Margarita Ignacia Nograles, and HB 7047 by Marino party list Rep. Sandro Gonzales.