IN RESPONSE to Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib's recent accusations, the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Nordeco) has strongly defended itself, labeling the claims "false and baseless."
The cooperative, Jubahib, Ryan Amper of Davao Consumer Movement, and National Electrification Administration (NEA) lawyer Omar Mayo recently attended a joint Senate committee hearing on July 12, 2023, organized by the committees on Energy, Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.
Among the issues addressed by Nordeco was Jubahib's allegation of P3 billion in funds charged to their members, which the cooperative refutes as inaccurate.
Nordeco clarified that the debt, which had not reached P3 billion, originated from the claimed 'non-payment of MCOs [member-consumer-owners]' during the Daneco-NEA and Daneco-Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) dispute from 2012 to 2019.
According to Nordeco, these charges, paid by its members, were instead "unbundled" rates set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). Importantly, these liabilities arising from the internal conflicts between the two factions of Nordeco during the specified period were not imposed on the consumers.
The cooperative also addressed Jubahib's "fake cooperative" allegations, explaining that it has regularly conducted annual general membership assemblies (AGMA) and invited him to participate, but he failed to do so.
In its defense against being labeled as a "fake cooperative," Nordeco underscored the historical significance of its establishment as it was formed through Presidential Decree 269, signed by Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the father of the incumbent president, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., which established over 100 electric cooperatives, including Nordeco.
Regarding the reported daily unscheduled rotational brownouts in Davao del Norte and the Island Garden of Samal, Nordeco denied any involvement or responsibility for such occurrences.
Contrary to Jubahib's claims, Nordeco has clarified that the reported brownouts in the area are not a result of any deliberate action on their part. Instead, they explained that these brownouts are caused by various unforeseen factors, such as weather conditions, incidents where lines are dragged by vehicles or bumped into poles, and other similar occurrences.
Marilou Impuesto, Nordeco's consumer accounts department manager, also confirmed during the hearing that no rotational brownouts are occurring in Igacos, and any instances of power interruptions are isolated cases.
Furthermore, Nordeco pointed out that brownouts can also be attributed to the ongoing preventive maintenance and repair activities carried out by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) on their generation and transmission facilities. Additionally, unforeseen interruptions caused by forces of nature and human interference may contribute to temporary power outages in the region.
‘Businesses thrive’ in Davnor, Igacos, Nordeco claims
During the Senate Hearing, Jubahib expressed concerns that the recurring brownouts in Davao del Norte and Igacos could potentially hamper business opportunities in the province, leading to a crisis.
In response, Nordeco presented records showing an increase in applications from industrial and commercial entities, with 671 applications as of May 2023, compared to 471 in 2021. The cooperative asserts that it can meet the power demands of existing and upcoming businesses.
However, some business establishment owners in the area dispute these claims, stating that they still encounter frequent random brownouts, especially during the evenings.
A medium-sized business owner in Panabo City expressed worries that the persistent brownouts could damage their appliances and business.
Similarly, a vendor in Igacos mentioned that though they cope with rotational brownouts using generator sets, they still hope for complete elimination of the issue to avoid disruptions to their work.
Nordeco urged discussions grounded on relevant laws and verified facts, expressing expectations for Jubahib to uphold the standards that benefit his public office. The latter has yet to release a statement in response to Nordeco's assertions. (ICE)