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    Davao Norte gov wants Marcos to change his mind on power firm franchise expansion

    March 30, 2023 - Philippine Daily Inquirer


      The Regional Development Council (RDC) is backing moves to place the entire Davao del Norte under the franchise area of the Davao Light and Power Co. (DLPC).

      In a meeting on Friday in Mati City, Davao Oriental, the RDC passed a resolution seeking the approval of the three House bills that would allow the Aboitiz-owned power distribution company to expand its franchise in areas currently served by the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco).

      Davao del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib, who set the resolution in motion, said he hoped that the RDC resolution would help change the mind of President Marcos Jr., who earlier vetoed a similar proposal.

      '(I am) hopeful that, being the highest policy-making body for development efforts in the Davao region, the RDC's move will help influence the President to reconsider his previous decision and grant DLPC's expansion in the province this time around,' Jubahib said in a statement.

      Last year, the President vetoed an earlier bill filed by Davao del Norte first district Rep. Pantaleon Alvaraez to expand DLPC's franchise in areas now served by the Northern Davao Electric Cooperatives.

      But Alvarez refiled House Bill 5077 this year, which along with House Bill 6740, authored by PBA Partylist Rep. Margarita Ignacia Nograles, pushed for the expansion of the DLPC franchise in Maco, Davao de Oro.

      The third bill, House Bill 6695, authored by Davao del Norte second district Rep. Alan Dujali and Davao de Oro first district Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora, pushes for the inclusion of the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) in the DLPC franchise area.

      DLPC currently serves Davao City and some parts of Davao del Norte, like Panabo City and the towns of Carmen, Sto. Tomas and Braulio Dujali.

      In 2021, Jubahib led the petition to remove the province from the franchise area of the Nordeco. He is now serving his second term as Davao del Norte governor.

      The provincial government and the local government units in the province, also issued their respective resolutions supporting the move.

      Early this month, the business sector of Tagum City, the capital of Davao del Norte, held an awareness rally to support the congressional proposal.

      A similar rally was held in Igacos last month as the city, considered the crown jewel of the region in tourism, has experienced fluctuating electricity since Christmas day last year when the submarine cable that provided power in the area conked out.

      Instead of repairing the submarine cable connected to the grid through the transmission system of DLPC, Nordeco tapped a company that provided modular generator sets as the temporary power source.

      The electric cooperative planned to replace the submarine cable with another submarine cable that would connect Samal island to Pantukan in Davao de Oro, a distance about 10 times as far as the present submarine cable, a Nordeco official said.

      Elvira Alngog, officer in charge of Nordeco, said early this month that repairing the submarine cable would cost the cooperative P10 million, while its submarine cable project would cost about P1.5 billion.

      But the Davao Consumer Movement (DCM), a group supporting the transfer proposal, said that tapping a company offering modular generator sets caused a tremendous increase in the electricity rates in Nordeco's franchise area .

      Ryan Amper, DCM's co-convenor, said the submarine cable project had yet to get the approval of regulating agencies like the Energy Regulation Commission, which approved capital expenditures in the power industry; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the environment compliance certificates, and permits from the local governments of Pantukan and Samal Island.

      Amper said another cheaper alternative would have been to wait for the completion of the bridge that would connect Samal Island and Davao City and use it as backbone for the power cable. He said an initial study showed that capital expenditure for the project would only reach P200 million.

      Earlier, the RDC had approved a resolution on the use of the connector bridge as backbone, not only for power supply but also for water supply cables to the island.


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