[two_third]“Ang nakakatakot sa planong pag-take-over ng National Electrification Administration o NEA sa ating kooperatiba ay ang napakalaking posibilidad na mabenta ito sa pribadong korporasyon,” Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Teddy Casiño speaking before Daneco’s second general assembly held in Tagum Sunday.
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
Moves to break off the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (DANECO) from the hold of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to become a full-fledge cooperative gets a boost from a progressive solon and a former Senator.
Speaking before an estimated crowd of 8,000 attending Daneco’s second general assembly held here yesterday, Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Teddy Casiño affirms the path taken by its consumer-members who voted in a referendum in May to turn Daneco into a stock cooperative under the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
Casiño said under such terms, the cooperative will be exempt from paying taxes and other fees that would allow member-consumers to avail of much cheaper power rates.
In what was seen as an attempt to prevent such move, the NEA dismissed Daneco officials pushing for CDA registration ahead of the May referendum.
Nevertheless, the move to transfer Daneco to the CDA was voted by 49,000 member-consumers, as against the more than a thousand members who were for registration to the NEA.
Daneco which provides electricity for the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte, except Panabo Ciy, is one of the oldest electric cooperatives in the country.
Daneco has been under the supervision and control of the government-controlled NEA since its organization in 1971, but the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, granted electric cooperatives the opportunity to convert in a stock cooperative under the CDA, by way of a referendum.
Alleged inefficiencies of the NEA and failure to equip Daneco for a sustainable and alternative power supply were among the reasons cited by proponents of the move to bolt out of NEA.
The plan to separate from NEA also garnered support from the League of Mayors in the province, who passed a resolution indicating their preference to separate NEA and transform Daneco into a stock cooperative which would make it more responsive to its member-consumers in terms of services and benefits.
Prelude to privatization
The move of dismissing majority of Daneco officials who are members of the board was seen as an attempt to undermine the leadership and pave the way for NEA’s eventual takeover.
Casiño warned this could be a prelude to privatization. “Ang nakakatakot sa planong pag-take-over ng National Electrification Administration o NEA sa ating kooperatiba ay ang napakalaking posibilidad na mabenta ito sa pribadong korporasyon, (What is alarming to the planned take-over of the National Electrification Administration or NEA to our cooperative is the great possibility of selling this to a private corporation),” Casiño said.
The end-result of privatization is the continued increase of power rates, he added, taking into consideration the fact that private corporations are after profits, above all, than service.
“Ang ipinaglalaban natin ay hindi lamang sa usapin ng pagmamay-ari. Dapat rin tingnan at pag-usapan ang ating karapatan sa murang kuryente (We are not only talking about ownership here. We are also talking about our right to power rate that is inexpensive),” he added.
The reason why power rate in the Philippines is among the highest in Asia, Casiño pointed out, is due to the control of private corporations to the country’s power generating assets.
That private corporations would also control power distribution, is also a possibility, the progressive solon warned. “Ito ang dapat nating batayan dito sa Daneco, (We must be vigilant about it here in Daneco),” he added.
The benefits of cooperativism
Former Senator Agapito ‘Butz’ Aquino who was also invited as guest of the special assembly encouraged Daneco’s member-consumers to strengthen their electric cooperative.
“Cooperativism is the right path towards the alleviation of poverty,” Aquino said, emphasizing that a lot of blue prints in terms of cooperative success are already recorded in the country.
Casiño also said cooperative is more democratic because profits or income return to the member-consumers.
He added that cooperatives should buy private companies to widen its services and business undertakings, not the other way around where private companies buy electric cooperatives.
Casiño also pledged his support to the officers and member-consumers of Daneco especially in their present struggle to become a stock cooperative under the CDA. (Alex D. Lopez, davaotoday.com)