• Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro
  • 30 Dec 2019

As pronounced by the highest law of the land, “In a democratic and republican State, sovereignty resides with the people and all governmental powers emanate from them.” Indeed, in a democracy, the public influences policy and then the government carries out actions determined by the public. However, this is not so regarding the existence of so-called Electric Cooperatives.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei!” (The voice of the people is the voice of God). Thus, in 2012, the MCOs (member-consumer-owners) of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperatives (DANECO) voted YES to be a true cooperative by registering with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) by a vote of some 50,000 with only 1,000 voted to remain with the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

The counting in that referendum lasted until 2:00 O’clock in the morning and when this was reported to me, all those thousands of members present were rejoicing because their respective capital shares would be recognized and that DANECO would finally be true to the DNA of cooperativism which is members-owned.

That is actually an undeniable truth. Each MCO has already paid in their more than 50 years of existence capital shares which when computed will not be less than P50,000 each taken from their monthly billings under amortization of loans and reinvestment. Each MCO should by now be receiving patronage refund of not less than P10,000 every year, knowing that an electric cooperative is earning so much out of its operation of giving light to some 150,000 households in the Davao del Norte Area.

Unfortunately, this did not happen as their registration with CDA has not been recognized all these years. I found out that a very influential corporate entity is very much interested to own DANECO using its strong influence to derail any effort to have it members-owned. All of those top political officials who before were for its registration with CDA suddenly just turned around as I heard the outpourings of support from that corporation during elections.

All those passionately advocating to rectify a social wrong have stop their advocacy. And why not? As of today, nine leaders had gone to the Great Beyond, having been murdered for just fighting for what is right, what is true and what is just. The Board of Directors of CDA-registered DANECO and its management have all resigned for fear of being killed.

For the chairman of CDA who is fighting for it to be truly a genuine cooperative is now facing a case in the Sandigan Bayan, for what? For doing his job as Chairman of an office that had been created by the Constitution “to advance the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development.

It is a great social injustice to front itself as a cooperative when it is not, by not recognizing the members’ ownership of this multi-billion peso utility. The recognition of MCOs’ ownership will be a great liberation force to liberate the poor from the bondage of poverty. If only the ownership will be recognized of some 11 million MCOs in all the 119 electric cooperatives nation-wide with a critical mass of some 55 million Filipinos, equity will be had in a country where only 200 families control 73% of the economy.

Let us go back to history. In the late 60s, our very own Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez wanted to electrify the rural areas as during that time, electricity was just confined in the urban areas, i.e., CEPALCO in Cagayan de Oro, DAVAO LIGHT in Davao, MERALCO in Manila. A group then of senators and congressmen went to the United States to learn on what could be the best way to electrify the rural areas. They were amazed to discover that in the United States, it is the consumers who are the owners for being cooperatives. This is so because electricity is means to life ( just like water and air) and should not be a means to enrich the capitalists.

And so that was in the mindset of our legislators when they enacted the Rural Electrication Law that it should be owned and managed by the MCOs, thus, cooperativized. The USAID then provided a grant of 800 million dollars to start the Philippine rural electrification through cooperativism. But their cooperativising technique was just a gimmick for truly, the so-called electric cooperatives are just cooperatives in name, based on a landmark 2003 decision of the Supreme Court in the case of PHILRECA Vs. Department of Finance.

These so called electric cooperatives began their fake existence during the height of martial law regime when President Marcos then issued Presidential Decree 1645 (named after M-16 and Caliber 45) and provided powers to NEA under Section 357 (named after Magnum 357). Such was not surprising as NEA then was under an AFP General of the military as Secretary.

After the EDSA Revolution, such social wrong was attempted to be rectified and so NEA was given 3 years to turn over all the Electric Cooperatives to CDA, as the sole registering agency on cooperatives. But such did not happen.

All of those years, all the past administrations where carrying out actions that benefit corporate and financial interest. Indeed, the power in a democratic state resides with the people but how come such is being taken from them by big corporations? Under the present dispensation, the 11 million MCOs are hopeful that due attention be given to rectify a great social injustice that is victimizing a critical mass of some 55 million Filipinos who are now shouting “let justice be done ‘till heavens fall!