SENATOR Grace Poe said it is "illogical" for one LGU to stop another from seeking development.

This came about during the Senate committee on public service hearing on House Bill 10554 last Wednesday, which was filed in response to the clamor of Davao del Norte LGUs to join the franchise area of Davao Light and Power Co from its current supplier, North Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco).

During the public hearing on the proposal to transfer the remaining areas of Davao del Norte all the areas under the franchise of Nordeco, Poe, chair of the committee on public service, said the desire of Davao del Norte LGUs to join Davao Light "weighs heavily" more than the wishes of other LGUs to stop it.

“I understand the problem of Gov. Tyrone Uy na if nabigyan ng serbisyo ng Davao Light ang ibang munisipyo, baka naman mag suffer ang ibang munispiyo dahil mababawasan ang area ng Nordeco....and we have seen that the service of Nordeco is really lacking...ang ibig ba sabihin nito, in the interest of equality, huwag na tayo mag-expand let us just accept the status quo and let’s just all suffer together? I don’t think it’s logical,” Poe said.

Poe’s advice came out after Uy said the Davao de Oro Provincial Government was not included in the discussion of the proposal even before it was approved in the House of Representatives.

“I am just protecting our people,” Uy said as he cited Nordeco’s claim that if the province is the only area under its franchise, the rates will drastically rise.

She added, “The role of Congress is to make sure that those granted (with) the franchise is (sic) capable of providing the service that the clients (of what they) deserve which is uninterrupted power, capable service.”

She pointed out that it is “not logical to maintain the status quo” if the provider of services is inefficient and that the rates are high.

Officials of Davao del Norte, headed by Governor Edwin Jubahib, have urged Congress to pass the proposal so that the entire province is placed under the franchise of Davao Light which now serves Panabo City and the towns of Sto. Tomas, Carmen and Braulio Dujali.

Jubahib, who was among the officials who were present during the public hearing, said the provincial government and the municipal governments came up with petitions to replace Nordeco with Davao Light because they have been deprived of better service.

“Ang habol namin is good service for Davao del Norte so kung si Governor Uy habol din nya ay maganda serbisyo ng kuryente sa Davao de Oro sasama na siya sa spetisyon namin laban sa Daneco-Nordeco. Pwede na rin sumabay si Gov Tyrine for the betterment of Davao de Oro,” Jubahib added.

Uy said he understands the sentiments of the local officials of Davao del Norte, however, he said, he also wanted to protect the welfare of his constituents and the development of his province.

When asked by Poe on whether the Aboitiz utility will be willing to expand to Davao de Oro, Rodger Velasco, Davao Light president, said the company “is open to discussing to expand farther” to the province.

Velasco said it heeded the call of the LGUs of Davao del Norte, its business sector and other groups to assume the role of being the power utility of the province because they submitted resolutions and position papers.

He said the utility operates in its franchise area with a “non-monopolistic” mindset as it continually improves its services at affordable rates.

He said its rates, which are about P3 lower than that of Nordeco, are based on the value-chain of supply, not only distribution rates “so that the bottom line (is) that (what) we deliver to our customers is cheaper (electricity).”

Senator Franklin Drilon also torpedoed the argument of those opposing the proposal that Congress cannot allow the takeover of the franchise area based on the provision of the Electric Power Reform Act of 2001.

Drilon, a lawyer, said that Congress has, based on the Constitution, the power to grant and revoke a franchise

“The power of Congress is defined in the Constitution,” Drilon said, pointing out that the argument cannot stand because the authority on the franchise is within the prerogative of Congress. (PR)