Atty. Migs, Sen. Marcos react to Nordeco‘s ‘constitutional crisis‘ warning

Contributed photos
Contributed photos

PBA Partylist Representative Margarita "Atty. Migs" Nograles reacted to the warning released by North Davao Electric Cooperative's (Nordeco) legal counsel that a possible "constitutional crisis" might take place if four bills seeking to amend the franchise areas of electricity distributors in Mindanao are to be passed.

Atty. Migs said she understands where the electric coop's lawyer is coming from with his statement, it was since the Davao Light and Power Company's expansion was vetoed.

"As a lawyer, I understand his ground, but as a legislator and a lawyer as well, the Constitution provides that it is the job of a legislature to look into the franchises that we grant," Atty. Migs said.

She said that all the franchises granted to anybody by the legislature can also be amended and altered if it requires "the common good."

She said that the failures of Nordeco in delivering quality service to the public have already been apparent.

"Nakikita naman po natin na palaging nawawala ang kuryente sa Davao del Norte. They have also been charging sa kanilang billing statements na walang approval sa ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission), at ang pinakanakakatkot is meron silang 27.20 something pesos interest penalty pag hindi ka nagbayad per day and they've been operating for 50 years and they've been doing that," the young congresswoman said.

In his warning, Atty. Jeorge Rapista stated that the "Constitution does not allow laws that impair contracts."

"With HBs 5077, 6740, 6995, and 7047, existing contracts of Nordeco will be substantially impaired. For example, Power supply contracts will be servicing a much smaller franchise area,” Rapista said.

Association of Philippine Electric Cooperative Partylist Rep. Sergio Dagooc and Philreca (Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc.) Partylist Rep. Presley De Jesus echoed the sentiment of Nordeco's lawyer, citing the Non-Impairment Clause (Article III, Section 10) under the 1987 Constitution as a "key challenge to the bills, as well as Section 27 of the landmark energy legislation Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) or RA 9137 which provided that 'all existing franchises be allowed to their full term'.”

HB 6740 is sponsored by Atty. Migs. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Imee Marcos reiterated Atty. Migs' reaction, saying that in general principle a franchise is just a special privilege from the government.

"As a special privilege, it can be withdrawn at any time or diminished at any point for reasons meant for the public good," Sen. Marcos said.

She also strongly emphasized that she doesn't want anybody to intimidate the government.

"Walang takutan, ayaw ko nang ganyan," referring to the warning released by Nordeco's lawyer.

When asked whether as a Senate chair of the committee on cooperatives, they have the power to penalize erring cooperatives, she said that unfortunately, Nordeco is under the committee on energy.

"But, yes, we actually can! We asked the NEA (National Electrification Authority) time and again and they have actually intervened in the so-called ailing coops," the senator said.

Atty. Migs and Sen. Marcos held a short press conference on August 19, 2023, at the Royal Mandaya Hotel before the senator participated in the Kadayawan sa Davao 2023. CEA

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