LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
THE unethical takeover of commercially viable franchise areas of Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (NORDECO) by the Davao Light and Power Company via an equally immoral legislative route is despicable, to say the least. DLPC, an Aboitiz Power firm, wormed its way via the congressional route to cede progressive towns and cities where NORDECO derives substantial revenues to sustain operations in unprofitable areas in Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro.
The Congressional Legislative Franchise Committee approved in bionic speed the amendment of the franchise of DLPC practically handing over in a silver platter the cities of Tagum and the Island Garden City of Samal, Kapalong, New Corella, Asuncion, Tala-ingod and San Isidro in Davao del Norte and Maco in Davao de Oro. The contemptible move would practically deprive NORDECO of 75 megawatts of billable consumers. It’s not only a sure way of killing the electric cooperative it will also result in the increase of generation charge in the remaining franchise areas of NORDECO.
The furtive attempt of DLPC to take over the profitable areas of operations of NORDECO became an object of vehement protest by the electric coop following the campaign of Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin Jubahib and Congressman Bebot Alvarez to cede the aforesaid towns and cities to DLPC. Jubahib was even too careless to say that talks are ongoing with the power firm on the possible takeover. This prompted DLPC to come out with denial and thereafter resulting in the ebbing of controversy but saying that they are “listening”.
Listening DLPC did, but only to politicians finding faults in NORDECO’s operations to gain votes. The power company also talks to politicians but not to the cooperative and plotted their moves when everybody was in election mode. What a brazen and insidious scheme indeed.
NORDECO was obviously caught flat-footed. The passage of the amendment was being hatched while everybody was busy with pre-election activities. So swiftly did the Legislative Franchise Committee approve the amendment of DLPC it did not give NORDECO the opportunity to defend itself from the allegations hurled against it by the sponsors of the bill. It did not even bother to ask the Department of Energy, the National Electrification Commission, and the Energy Regulatory Commission their respective positions on such a vital concern. What a shameless act of railroading a vital issue.
The sponsors of the bill and DLPC themselves stonewalled the fact that there is nothing in terms of additional power generation that would assure adequate supply in the additional expansion areas it will take over from NORDECO. As I write this piece DLPC is having what seems like a 3-hour brownout in Davao City. Removing 73 megawatts from its primary franchise area will translate to frequent power interruptions that will also impact the distribution of water supply in Davao City. The Davao City Water District had been experiencing low water pressure as a result of brownouts taking place in its sumps.
As far as I know, neither the government nor DLPC has any plan to put up an additional power generation plant. While Aboitiz InfraCapital affiliate, Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. is currently constructing a mini-hydropower plant for its bulk water project in Davao City, it cannot however increase its generation to add power for DLPC commercial distribution.
To mitigate the possible shortage of power in Davao City which is experiencing rapid growth of commerce and industries DLPC must put up additional generating plants that would add power to the grid, otherwise, it should moderate its corporate greed and leave NORDECO alone.
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.