By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
TAGUM City—Some 4,000 electricity consumers took the main thoroughfares in this city to stage a peace walk and prayer rally to express their opposition to the take over of the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) in the several franchise areas of Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco).
The movement that draws NORDECO member-consumers here and from different towns in the provinces of Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro was convened by the Coalition Against the Privatization of Electric Cooperatives (CAPECs) and Co-Convened by National Center of Electric Consumers Cooperative (NCECCO).
CAPECs held the event in reponse to a motorcade-rally last week led by business owners of this city who joined the clamor for a new power utility to replace Nordeco which they claimed to have been charging exorbitant power rates to its member consumers in the two neighboring provinces.
The rally culminated at Freedom Park where speakers from different sectors that joined CAPECs took turns in lambasting the four house bills in Congress that seeks to let DLPV took over Nordeco’s franchise area in Tagum City, Island Garden City of Samal and the towns of Kapalong, Asuncion, San Isidro, New Corella and Talaingod in Davao del Norte as well as the town of Maco in Davao de Oro
Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez re-filed House Bill No. 5077 that seeks to expand DLPC’s coverage to the cities of Tagum and Samal and the towns of Kapalong, Asuncion, San Isidro, New Corella and Talaingod in Davao del Norte as well as the town of Maco in Davao de Oro.
Three other house bills pushed for DLPC expansion in parts or in whole within Nordeco’s franchise area; namely: HB 6995 by Davao de Oro 1st district Rep. Maricar Zamora and Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Alan Dujali; HB 6740 by PBA Rep. Margarita Ignacia Nograles, and HB 7047 by Marino party list Rep. Sandro Gonzales.
Aside from fiery speeches, the rallyists signed two enlarged tarpaulin manifesto expressing their stand against DLPCs expansion in these areas as well as prayers delivered by a Catholic priest, a church pastor, an Ata-Manobo leader and a Muslim leader.
The event started with a morning mass at the Tagum Cathedral officiated by Bishop Medil Scay Aseo.
Former National Electrfication Administration (NEA) administrator Edgrado Masongsong, secretary general of NCECCO, the rally would serve as ice breaker to educate the 200,000 member-consumers of Nordeco to rally behind the cooperative they really owned.
“ They will now understand what you have been fighting for for the general welfare of all,” he said in his speech.
He said electric cooperatives in the country was a brainchild of former president Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. in 1969 through the supervision of NEA as part of the late president’s rurqal electrification program.
Masongsong established NCECCO during his time , a national organization that is totally independent from 121 electric cooperatives in the country. He envisioned NCECCO to build its own renewable energy plants for them to enjoy cheap electricity rates.
Allan Laniba, general manager of Leyte III Electric Cooperative III (Leyeco II) and Don Orestes Romualdez Electric Cooperative (Dorelco), in his video message urged electric cooperative consumers to make a definite stand against DLPC expansion.
“We cannot be neutral. We have to make a choice if we are for the people or privatization,” Laniba said.