NORDECO cries foul on HB 9978 and HB 10554 approval

The Northern Davao Electric Cooperative Inc. (NORDECO) cries foul over the approval of House Bill 09978 on November 29, 2021.

NORDECO claimed ‘it was not afforded the due process to address the issues raised against it.’

In a statement, NORDECO said that in a Legislative Franchise Committee hearing which lasted an hour and 45 minutes via virtual platform, House Bill (HB) 09978 was hastily carried and approved even in the absence of the position papers from the Department of Energy (DOE), National Electrification Administration (NEA), and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which are yet to be submitted as manifested by their respective representatives.

“NORDECO, Inc. strongly opposes the passage of HB No. 09978 or “An Act Granting Davao Light and Power Company, Inc. A Franchise to Establish, Operate, and Maintain, for Commercial Purposes and in the Public Interest, a Distribution System for the Conveyance of Electric Power to End-Users in the Municipality of Maco, in the Province of Davao de Oro, and the Municipalities of Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro and Talaingod in the Province of Davao del Norte, and Ensuring the Continuous and Uninterrupted Suoply of Electricity in the Franchise Area,” which was authored by AKO BICOL Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.

Lawyer Daniel Campoamor, one of NORDECO’s legal counsels and the spokesperson of NORDECO during the hearing, expressed that the painful part is that they were not even heard.

“Our representatives from the power bloc will try hard to see to it that this will be returned to the Committee on Legislative Franchise so that the government agencies and other stakeholders will have the chance to express their position about this matter,” Campoamor added.

However, in a sudden turn of events, last December 1,2021, during the 3rd regular session of the House of the Representatives, just two days after the Committee Hearing, NORDECO was surprised to learn that the HB 9978 was amended to House Bill 10554 entitled, “An Act Expanding the Franchise Area of Davao Light and Power Company, Inc., Under Republic Act 8960, Entitled ‘An Act Further Extending the Term of the Franchise Granted to Davao Light and Power Company, Inc. to Construct, Operate and Maintain an Electric Light, Heat, and Power System in Davao City and the Municipalities of Carmen, Panabo, Dujali, and Sto. Tomas, Province of Davao del Norte, for a Period of Twenty Five (25) years and Other Purposes.”

This new bill was taken up in the plenary of the House of Representatives. During the session, only Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and just one of the four representatives of the Power Bloc, PHILRECA Partylist Representative Presley de Jesus were given time to speak up to question the provisions of HB 10554. Despite the oppositions raised, HB 10554 was passed and approved on the 2nd Reading.

“Should this bill become a law, the consequence for the remaining consumers will be huge as an increase in the generation charge to Php17.27 per kilowatt-hour from Php 6.36 per kilowatt-hour would be borne by the remaining 94,244 billed consumers of the Municipalities of Mabini, Pantukan, Laak, Monkayo, Montevista, Compostela, New Bataan, Nabunturan, Mawab and Maragusan, all in Davao de Oro province,” Campoamor explained.

Also, the electrification program in the remaining 635 sitios in the areas that DLPC would “annex” would surely be hampered as private distribution utilities would not be allocated government fund intended for the Rural Electrification Program.

“We are not losing hope in this battle and we continue to draw strength from the more than 94,000 member-consumer-owners who manifested support to NORDECO and opposition to the private take-over,” Atty. Campoamor expressed. The Electric Cooperative shall continue to serve its mandate in its franchise area despite the turmoil and challenges. (NW)