THE problems in electricity supply have stunted the economic growth of Tagum City, the capital of Davao del Norte, Mayor Allan Rellon said this week.
In an interview that was posted by website newsline.ph, Rellon said that the city government has to cough out a budget so it can put posts and other power distribution needs to provide its projects electricity as its service provider, the North Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) does not have a clear program that will help the city ensure that the need for additional electricity supply is fulfilled.
“One of the weaknesses of the city of Tagum is power, and we have to address that,” Rellon explained about his action to use some of its funds to programs that are supposed to be the obligations of the cooperative.
He said the development programs of the city government ”are useless if there are no facilities (including power) and if we depend on Nordeco,” as even problems that are supposed to be responsibility of the electric cooperative are brought to the attention of the city government.
Rellon was among the local chief executives, headed by Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin I. Jubahib, that signed a petition in December to transfer to Davao Light and Power Co. (Davao Light) the remaining area of Davao del Norte under the franchise of Nordeco. Only one of the town mayors did not sign the petition.
Panabo City and the towns of Sto. Tomas, Carmen and Dujali have been under the franchise area of Davao Light since 1976.
Mario Angelo Sotto, Nordeco general manager, earlier criticized those supporting the move for the province to source its power source from private entity, claiming that they are doing it for their personal interest.
But Rellon turned the tables on the cooperative for politicizing the formation of its board of directors, saying that in the last two years, the city has not had any member of the board even when it is the biggest consumer.
Although in the past the city had two members of the board, one was fired, while the other was transferred to the management.
He said he felt slighted as he wrote a letter in March to the cooperative to recommend two qualified individuals to become members of the board, but until now the management of the cooperative has yet to reply to the letter and that he was only told to let the two run in the election for members of the board which he believed would not happen because of the pandemic that the world is facing at present.
He said he was told lately that his request would be accommodated, but Nordeco “has been two late the hero.”
Rellon also lamented that Nordeco is not paying taxes to the city or the province even when the bulk of its consumers is in the province. Rellon said this is because the head office of the cooperative is in Montevista, Davao de Oro.
He said that while the city government has included the cooperative in its special committees so that the entity could find solutions to the mounting power problems, the latter is instead using the city government to fill the gaps that it has failed to provide.
Rellon cited an example of a company that is setting up a tourism-related establishment in the city, when it decided to submit the application for power supply to Nordeco, the latter denied the application because it cannot put up posts. So it was the city government that decided to set up the posts.
Rellon said he could understand if the challenges in providing power to the city took place when Nordeco was still in a controversial position. But at present, its new management has claimed it has improved its system, the mayor said the problems have continued to persist.
The mayor was alluding to the period when two factions were trying to outsmart each other in wresting the leadership of the cooperative, an issue that was eventually resolved after President Rodrigo Duterte appointed a new management team and courts decided in favor of the faction affiliated with the National Electrification Administration.
He said the Nordeco management told him there is enough supply needed for the growth of the city, but that it is not happening. “Why is the demand (for power not met)?” Rellon quipped.
Rellon was the third local chief executive to come out criticizing the electric cooperative after Jubahib and Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Al David Uy.
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