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Nod on bill to include all of DavNor in Davao Light’s area hailed

LOCAL officials and other groups in Davao del Norte have welcomed the congressional approval that expands the franchise area of Davao Light and Power Co. to the rest of the province.

This was after the Senate on Monday voted to include the rest of the province under the Aboitiz power company.

The proposal, if approved by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, would allow Davao Light to service all the remaining towns and cities of the province as it has been servicing Panabo City, Sto. Tomas, Carmen and Braulio Dujali since 1976.

At present, the North Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco), formerly the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco), services the remaining areas of the province as well as Davao de Oro, which was carved out of the province in 1998 and was initially named Compostela Valley.

Among those who posted the approval of the proposal on their respective social media pages were Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin I. Jubahib and Mayor Al David Uy of the Island Garden City of Samal.

Both officials thanked Congress for the action as Jubahib, in a statement sent to the Inquirer, said: “This bill represents the dreams and aspirations of Davao del Norte — world class service and cheap electricity for our people. This is critical to our economic growth and the convenience of our people.

“The provincial government of Davao del Norte will welcome Davao Light and we will work closely with them in providing the service the people of Davao del Norte deserve,” he said.

On the other hand, Uy said the proposal “is the turning point in the history of Samal Island when we can now start fully realizing our potential as a tourism and investment destination.

“Our poor power supply and poor power infrastructure have held us back and caused a lot of suffering to our people. Now we can look forward to a brighter future and the local government unit is ready to work with Davao Light in giving the service our people deserve,” Uy said.

During the public hearing, Davao Light officials assured the two Houses of Congress that the company would ensure that rates in its franchise area will be uniform and that it would heavily invest in infrastructure facilities.

The comparative data between the two utilities showed that the cooperative collects about P4 more per kilowatt-hour compared with what Davao Light is collecting.

Davao Light also assured to improve the rural electrification of the province which at present is at 68%, while its franchise area is at 99%.

Electric cooperatives are supposed to reinvest their margin in rural electrification, but outgoing Mayor Allan Rellon questioned Nordeco’s efforts on this aspect as he claimed that it was the city government which set aside funds for the purpose.

The approval of the proposal would be crucial for Samal city because its source of power from the grid would be nearer at just about one kilometer through a cable system attached to the grid through the Davao Light transmission system.

However, instead of improving the cable system attached to the Davao Light, Nordeco announced last year that it was pushing for the construction of a 15-kilometer transmission system between the island city and Maco in Davao de Oro which would cost about P1.8 billion. The announcement came about even as the Energy Regulatory Commission said it has not approved its implementation.

Also welcoming the approval of the proposal was the DavNor Modernization Movement, a consumer group in the province. 

In thanking the legislators, Ave Rose Castillo, convenor of the group, the move would lead the power consumer of the province to “experience the electrical services we need and deserve in order to power our homes, businesses, and industries. This is the turning point the residents of Davao del Norte have been clamoring for, and this is what Davao del Norte needs to move forward to progress.”

“The people of Davao del Norte are grateful to both the House of Representatives and the Senate for giving us this chance to start over and create the best version of our province,” said Castillo as she also thanked local officials who worked to push for the approval of the bill.

Aside from the group, other organizations that have supported the bill include the Davao del Norte Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Tagum City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Samal Island Tourism Council, the Samal City Resort Owners Association, the Hugpong Manggama sa Isla, the Samal and the United Association of Tricycle Operators and Drivers of Samal.

However, Castillo earlier said that her group was dismayed when the Senate dropped Maco from the proposal after officials of Davao de Oro opposed it even as its officials also passed a resolution supporting its inclusion.

Maco is a town in Davao de Oro which is next to Tagum City, the capital of Tagum City, the capital of Davao del Norte.

Castillo, however, said her group is confident the “newly-elected provincial leadership (of Davao de Oro) will not let politics prevent Davao de Oro and its people from enjoying cheaper electricity and better service.”

Castillo also questioned the implementation of the Maco-Samal transmission system as she hopes that the bridge connecting Davao City and Samal, if built within the incoming administration, would become the backbone for the transmission system.

The call for Davao Light to take over the Nordeco franchise area has long been pushed, but it started to snowball when the cooperative suffered due to an internal squabble among its officials.

In 2012, one faction in the cooperative pushed for its separation from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the government body that supervises electric cooperatives, and sought that it be placed under the Cooperative Development Authority.

The internal conflict resulted in a legal battle as the two sides started outdoing its other in all activities, including in the collection of electric dues.

While the legal conflict was raging, its debt to its suppliers also started to balloon that in 2018, it was reported that its debt reached P2.1 billion that one company even stopped supplying power to the cooperative as its debt to the company hit P256 million.

Upon assumption to the presidency in 2016, President Duterte immediately constituted a body that would oversee its operations which eventually resulted in the change of name to Nordeco. The courts also voted in favor of the group that stuck with the NEA.

The leader of the team who eventually became the general manager of the cooperative, Mario Angelo Sotto, last year claimed the cooperative has improved its services as well as slowly paid its debts, although it has yet to release the official figure. Sotto died in January.


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