Thursday August 16, 2018

Ravanera: Electric coops perpetuate social injustice

SOCIAL injustice looms in so many ways in a highly skewed societal order. It is seen in the life of the peasantry tilling the land not their own, and if they own the land, they do not control the mode of production and marketing. This is the reason why everyone profits from farming except those who work under the excruciating heat of the sun – the farmers.

It is manifested in the life of the Filipino buyers who are victims of so many marketing layers as everything sold in this country, from needles to tractors, passes at least five marketing layers. A bag of Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer which is just bought in Ukraine at P100 per bag is sold in Mindanao at P1,500. Lipitor bought in New Delhi at 30 centavos per pill is sold in the Philippine pharmacies at P50.

But the height of social injustice is perpetuated in the life of the 11 million member-consumer- owners (MCOs) of so called Electric Cooperatives who until now are deprived of their fundamental right as shareholders of their respective multi-billion peso ECs.

Every time the MCOs will claim such right, they will just be told that they have only contributed P5 as membership fee. The truth is, in the unbundling of their monthly payment, it is shown that from the very beginning, each MCO has been paying two items as their patronage contributions which are: a) the total amortization cost which is about P0.36/kWh and b) the provision for Reinvestment which is about P0.11/kWh. This means a monthly capital contribution of about P94.54 based on the monthly consumption of about 200kWh per month or about P1,134.48 per year. After all these years (about 40 years as MCOs), each one has a total patronage capital contribution of about P45,000. This is very categorically stated in the EC’s By-Laws under Sec. 1, Article 2, “the members are the joint owners of the Cooperative with their individual equity in its assets determined on the basis of their patronage.”

I was informed that the MCOs are not even notified of their respective patronage capital contribution which is contrary to the provision of the By-Laws under 2(b) Article VII, “. . . within a reasonable time after the close of the fiscal year notify each patron of the amount of capital so credited to his account.”

There are about 119 ECs in the country and in region 10 alone, we have about eight, namely: Fibeco, Buseco, Moresco 1 and 2, Camelco, Moelci 1 and 2, Moresco 1 and 2, and Laneco and all these years, these so-called ECs have not recognized the MCOs’ patronage capital contribution. Such is the height of social injustice. This is a contributing factor to why the people are still in the quagmire of poverty.

In the past Mindanao-wide Cooperative Congress, the participants have the following Declaration:

“We have witnessed hunger and poverty in an island oozing with ecological wealth. We are well aware that the cause of economic deprivation if rooted in the powerlessness of the people to have access and control over their resources and over their utilities which are fast slipping through their fingers.

Even the millions of MCOs of electricity are being deprived to exercise their rights as owners because those running the affairs of the so called electric cooperatives (ECs), who through all these years have formed powerful cabal of vested interest, are stubbornly insisting that these ECs are cooperatives despite the fact that they do not adhere to time honored and universally-accepted cooperative principles and practices and notwithstanding the fact that Supreme Court has ruled resoundingly on the EC’s non tax exemption for not being genuine cooperatives.

However, instead of registering with CDA, what the ECs did was to “unleash formidable arsenal of lies, deceit, fear-mongering and cash-backed lobbying to ensure the continued proliferation and hold of private interest over electric cooperatives. Member-consumers were enticed with bags of grocery items and other goodies to sway their mindset. Lies and deceits were employed to cast doubt on the economic viability of electric cooperative if it would be registered with CDA.”

Let us serve notice to one and all that the only countervailing force against social injustice which is legal and peaceful is COOPERATIVISM. This is well stated in the 1987 Constitution which is “to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice and economic development.” Indeed, let justice be done till heavens fall.