THE management of Northern Davao Electric Cooperative Inc. (Nordeco) said it is hoping the Senate would give the electric cooperative "due process" following the passage of a House Bill expanding the franchise area of Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) to other parts of the region covered by Nordeco.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) 10554 on Monday, January 24. The bill will be transmitted to the Senate for its separate passage.

Nordeco, in a statement issued on Thursday, January 27, reiterated its opposition to the said bill, as this would remove the Municipalities of New Corella, Asuncion, Talaingod, Kapalong, and San Isidro, and the Cities of Tagum and Samal, Davao del Norte, and the Municipality of Maco, Davao de Oro from its franchise coverage area.

"House Bill 10554 is not a law as the same would still be deliberated before the House of Senate where Nordeco Inc. believes that the Electric Cooperative and its 234,644 member-consumer-owners would be accorded with due process, and that a thorough deliberation and study would be conducted," the electric cooperative said.

HB 10554 was recommended for approval by the Legislative Franchise Committee on November 29, 2021, and was passed under second reading on December 1, 2021.

Nordeco questioned its passage despite the non-submission of position papers from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Department of Energy, and Energy Regulatory Commission during the one hour and 45 minutes discussion in the committee hearing.

It said the legislators should consider the impact of the bill as member-consumer-owners in municipalities of Laak, Mabini, Pantukan, Monkayo, Montevista, Compostela, New Bataan, Nabunturan, Maragusan, and Mawab in Davao de Oro would bear the burden of an increased generation rate of about P17 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) from about P6/kwh once this bill is approved into a law.

"The prerogative of the House of Representatives to amend and/or repeal the franchise pursuant to Article XI, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution must be have been curtailed by the prevailing laws," Nordeco said.

The management said its franchise is “legal and still valid and existing to date,” citing Section 41 (c) of Republic Act 6038 the NEA Act, “... No franchise for service shall be granted to any other person within any area or a portion for which a cooperative holds a franchise” which is fortified further under Section 27 of Republic Act 9136 (Energy Power Industry Reform Act) that "...all existing franchise shall be allowed in their full term."

According to Nordeco, its franchise is yet to expire in 2028 except for Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) which is yet to expire in 2033.

Nordeco, meanwhile, assured its consumers that their operations would continue despite its ongoing legal issues.

"Rest assured that Nordeco continues to stand on its ground protecting the Electric Cooperative as it shall continue to serve its member-consumer-owners towards attaining sustainable development through Rural Electrification within its franchise coverage area," the electric cooperative said.

Nordeco ISD Manager Marilou Impuesto, in a radio interview on the same day, urged its consumer to support them by paying their power bills.

Impuesto also said the Diocese of Tagum issued a pastoral letter supporting the cooperative in its franchise battle.

Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib and Igacos Mayor Al David T. Uy, in a statement, welcomed the passage of the House Bill.

The Provincial Government of Davao del Norte said Provincial Board of Davao del Norte, City Councils of Tagum City and Igacos, Municipal Councils of Kapalong, New Corella, Talaingod, and San Isidro had issued unanimous resolutions demanding that they leave Nordeco, formerly known as Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Daneco).

Around 120 barangay councils out of the 140 barangays in the affected areas also passed similar resolutions.

At present, the franchise area of Davao Light only covers Davao City and Panabo City, Carmen, Dujali, and Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte.

Davao Light has not yet issued a statement following HB 10554's passage.