A signature campaign posted online has urged Davao Light and Power Co. (Dalight) to take over the remaining areas within the franchise area of the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) in Davao del Norte.
Initiated by the DavNor Consumer Coalition which, based on its change.org profile, is based in the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos), the campaign, posted last week on the online portal, got 57 signatures as of press time.
However, Mario Angelo Sotto, general manager of Nordeco, whose previous name was the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco), claimed there were individuals with vested interests who were behind the move.
“These groups have only wanted to make money out of the privatization (of the operations) of the cooperative (in the province),” said Sotto who was part of the team that President Rodrigo Duterte assigned to the cooperative to implement order as it has been embroiled in internal conflict.
Sotto added that the campaign to allow a private company to take over the operations of the cooperative, which changed its name two years ago, has been there since the 1990s, but nothing much has happened.
Dalight, on the other hand, through president Rodger Velasco, distanced itself from the issue.
“We cannot comment on the issue being faced by Daneco. We believe that this issue will ultimately be decided by the member-consumers (of Daneco) themselves” Velasco said in a text message.
Sotto said the move to transfer the areas to the privately-run utility will only put the consumers at a losing end as the company will always look at how to make profits.
As a cooperative, he added, Nordeco is the partner of the government in expanding electrification as this was embodied in the law that created the entity as well as other similar entities.
He said that since his team took over the management of the cooperative, its delivery of service has become better as he pointed out that it has gotten numerous awards for being a well-run entity.
The campaign pointed out that while Nordeco “claims to be a `cooperative’ but we have never enjoyed profit-sharing, dividends, or other benefits as members of the electric cooperative.”
Like other electric cooperatives in the country, Nordeco is a cooperative under the supervision of the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
The same issue became the contentious point when the cooperative experienced an internal conflict when two sides fought its other for its management: one side was with NEA while the other tried to affiliate it with the Cooperative Development Authority.
The lengthy legal battle eventually led to the initial victory of the one affiliated with NEA. This also led to the takeover of Soto’s group.
The campaign said the people behind it “are sick and tired of the poor services of Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco).”
Nordeco serves all of Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte, except for the towns of Sto. Tomas, Carmen and Braulio E. Dujali and Panabo City.
There were moves in the past to allow Dalight to expand its franchise area to include those in Davao del Norte, particularly Igacos, but the attempts fizzled out.
In the case of Igacos, while the Aboitiz subsidiary is not directly servicing it, the submarine cable serving the island city is connected to its transmission system.
The petition said that while their “neighbors in Davao City, Panabo City, Carmen, and the municipality of Sto. Tomas enjoy almost uninterrupted power supply and very good services the rest of us suffer under the hands of Daneco. Our suffering has never been more clear than in this time of COVID-19.”
It added that while the name of the cooperative was changed, it cannot improve the situation.
It also claimed that “corruption is rampant” in the cooperative and that request for repairs “takes a long time and we often have to pay under the table to Daneco employees.”
“How can we attract investors if our price of power is very expensive? We need our economy to grow so there will be progress,” it added.
“It is time for our government officials to rethink its almost 50-year relationship with this utility company and look elsewhere for the province’s power needs,” it said as it urged government officials in the province to support the campaign.
“We call on our government officials to act on this matter. Let the whole Davao del Norte join Panabo, Carmen, and Sto. Tomas in going under Davao Light so we can finally taste better service,” it added.
The campaign stated the reason behind the petition as motivation for the initiative include the issues on rates, the status of Nordeco as cooperative and the availability of stable electricity.
On rates, it pointed out that in February, the rate of Nordeco was at P10.25 per kilowatt-hour (kwh), while that of Davao Light was at P8.75 per kwh.
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