Electric co-op up against powerful political forces

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok May 28,2018 - 10:57 PM

Malou Guanzon-Apalisok

I got word yesterday that members of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative DANECO camped out near the Malacañang Palace to get President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve the war of attrition between the forces that want to take control of the electric cooperative based in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

On the one hand is the faction that recognizes DANECO as a co-operative under the jurisdiction of the Cooperative Development Authority CDA.

On the other is the group that insists DANECO is under the National Electrification Administration NEA.

This is a dispute that has dragged on for more than 8 years.

There had been violent incidents related to the conflict which indicates this is not an ordinary turf or business rivalry.

The Duterte administration has not categorically stated its position on the issue.

DANECO-NEA had the support of the previous administration under then President Benigno Aquino III.

DANECO is one of the country’s oldest cooperative.

When it was founded as a power distributor in 1971, it had 50,000 member-consumers spread all over 16 towns of Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte and the cities of Tagum and Panabo.

Over the years, DANECO’s member-consumer-owners MCOs had grown to 150,000 and with two DANECOs trying to outdo each other, the market has been split down the middle.

DANECO CDA has some 86,000 MCOs, mostly poor rural folks. DANECO NEA has gotten 64,000 in its fold, mostly business and corporate clients who pay electric bills more promptly.

The distance from Tagum to Davao City where President Rodrigo Duterte lives is about 80 kilometers.

One can get to the President’s native city from Tagum for less than an hour if there is not much traffic.

Mr. Omega told me that they were forced to stage a mass action in the capital city because the President has not answered their numerous requests for a dialogue in Davao City.

In an interview with this corner, DANECO CDA Chairman Bert Omega said some powerful forces are trying to pressure the regulatory body to cancel DANECO’s co-operative registration with the CDA.

In a meeting with CDA echelon Monday afternoon, officials of DANECO CDA asked the Board of Administrators not to succumb to the pressure of political forces who want to “kill” the electric co-operative by a simple act of expedience, that is, by canceling its registration without due process.

The Philippine Cooperative Center, the apex body of cooperatives is supporting DANECO CDA because the core issue is wealth democratization.

Coop leaders say MCOs should be given all the freedom where they want to place their money in exchange for a social product or service.

If the majority made the decision to be affiliated with DANECO CDA via a referendum conducted in May 2012, the courts have no power to undo that decision unless there was fraud committed during the exercise.

On Thursday, DANECO CDA and supporters from different coops in Manila are set to stage a bigger mass action in Mendiola.

President Duterte is a co-op believer.

He said so during the early days of his administration. I hope he will give his paisanos the time of day because the co-op operates a public utility.

As an advocate of co-operatives, I hope he will exert all efforts to sustain the electric co-op. One can never go wrong with co-operatives.

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TAGS: AGAINST, co-op, Electric, forces, political, powerful

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