Uy commends tourism sector’s part in crafting vetoed HB 10554

Nag-atang samtang sakay sa ilang bangka ang duha ka mga lalaki nga Badjao kay naghulat og mga turista nga modunggo sa Vanishing Island sa Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) kay ilang baligyaan og perlas. (Jeepy P. Compio)
Nag-atang samtang sakay sa ilang bangka ang duha ka mga lalaki nga Badjao kay naghulat og mga turista nga modunggo sa Vanishing Island sa Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) kay ilang baligyaan og perlas. (Jeepy P. Compio)

Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) Mayor Al David Uy disclosed that among industries in his jurisdiction, the tourism sector played a crucial role in pushing for the bill granting the expansion of the franchise coverage of the Davao Light and Power Company (Davao Light) to other parts of Davao del Norte, which was later on vetoed by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

House Bill 10554 was vetoed in 2022, as according to Marcos, it would effectively “kill” the current franchise holder, North Davao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Nordeco), and could be subject to legal challenges if Nordeco stands up for its rights.

“In fact, a lot of ang gihimo nato na mga dialogue. Where in fact, very crucial ang tabang sa mga tourism stakeholders nato in lobbying Congress didto sa House bill, which started I think early of 2021 (In fact, a lot of dialogues was created. The help from the tourism stakeholders was, in fact, very crucial in lobbying Congress for the House Bill, which started around early 2021),” Uy revealed on June 29, 2024, during a special press conference held at Club Samal Resort.

Uy recalled that the bill was 10 years in the making.

He said that they did every means including the legal and political mechanisms to persuade Marcos and the legislative department to hear their concerns over the long-standing power woes on the island, which they claimed had been 15 years already.

“Nangayo jud ko’g tabang sa tanang mga negosyante diri, mga tourism stakeholders, and I’m sure you all know our tourism stakeholders, mga taga-Davao pud ta. Naa pud, I think naa pud sila’y mga political clout, so nangayo gyud ko’g tabang nila in lobbying Congress, even in the Senate,” Uy said.

(I really asked for help from several business owners and tourism stakeholders – I'm sure you all know our tourism stakeholders are mostly from Davao City, whom I think have political clout, so I asked their help in lobbying Congress, even in the Senate).

Since the 2010s, Samal Island has recorded around P120 to P150 million economic losses annually due to inconsistent and unresolved electric issues. The tourism industry, according to him, has also lost around P50 million yearly. 

The power woes also created a significant setback in their tourism industry, with arrivals plummeting from 20 percent to 10 percent, prompting resort and business owners to procure their own generator set. 

At present, the official has already requested a separate bill, the so-called Davao Light Bill or House Bill 6740 authored by Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles and co-authored by Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Sandro Marcos, Camiguin Lone District Rep. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo and Davao del Sur Lone District Rep. John Tracy Cagas. HB 6740 also seeks to amend the existing franchise of Northern Davao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Nordeco) by reducing its franchise.

This bill also aims to expand the franchise of AboitizPower unit Davao Light to the municipalities of Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro and Talaingod, and in Tagum City and Island Garden City of Samal, all in Davao del Norte; and in Maco, Davao de Oro.

“So just imagine, ang mga nahago na mga gihimo namo, then karon balik na pud sa uno. So kapoy, kapoy jud, gikapoy na jud mi but kanang kakapoy well that’s part no, pero hopeful gihapon ta. But now sa dagan sa Congress I don’t know kung unsa na ang mahitabo,” he lamented.

(So just imagine all the efforts we exerted, only for us to start over again. It's tiring, very tiring – and we're really tired, but well, that's part of the process, still we remain hopeful. But now, with how the Congress is running, I don't know what will happen next).

To recall, Marcos penned a letter to the Senate and House of Representatives saying: “I remain committed to the pursuit and attainment of this objective in a vigorous and systematic manner, with utmost respect for the concomitant rights of the public service entities engaged in supplying electric service,” 

He claimed that the proposal would go against the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001, also known as Republic Act No. 9136, Section 27. Franchises are permitted to operate for the duration of their terms under Section 27.

“Likewise, the resulting repeal of North Davao Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s franchise over the expanded franchise area will violate the non-impairment clause as provided in Section 10, Article III of the 1987 Constitution,” the President said. DEF

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