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As Instruments of Social Justice & Equity

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera

Cooperatives’ Constitutional Mandate: Debunk Oligarchical Control

The Filipino people are wallowing in poverty because of their powerlessness to have control of resources and facilities. Who are in control of our resources and utilities? Only a few oligarchs. Let us examine the issue on Electric Cooperatives. It was no less than former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez from Cagayan de Oro who advocated for rural electrification in the late ‘60s as electricity then was just confined in the urban centers. After passing the rural electrification law, nationalist senators, i.e., Sen. Tañada and Sen. Jose Diokno and some congressmen went to the United States and observed the operations of Electric Cooperatives. They were astonished how these Electric Cooperatives operate, being members-consumers-owned (MCOs). Yes, electricity is a means to life, just like water and air and must be owned and managed by the member- consumers themselves. As a means to life, it must be beyond the commerce of men.

Thus, the Philippines in 1969 began rural electrification and it must be done the cooperative way with an aid from the USAID at the tune of 800 million dollars. However, it came to pass that so-called Electric Cooperatives were not members- owned despite the fact that the member-consumer-owners were the ones paying for the amortization of loans and reinvestment. All these years, their capital contributions that when consolidated today will reach more than a trillion pesos but are not recorded or recognized. Such is the greatest social injustice committed against the Filipino people as the 13 million MCOs in a family of five will constitute about 65 million Filipinos. Why is this so? Well, may I invite the MCOs to revisit their monthly unbundling of rate. Very clear is the payment of loans at P0.85 per kilowatt hour and reinvestment at P.50 per kilowatt hour. Based on experts’ computation, in the last 50 years, an MCO has already paid some P50,000 each as capital contribution. Have the MCOs been paid of patronage refund? None at all as such is being hidden from them.

In 1972, when the World Bank had known that these so-called Electric Cooperatives were just cooperatives in name, it provided another set of loans in the billions of dollars so as to educate the millions of members. But the funds were used against insurgency and it was then the period of Martial Law and the Generals were on top of the Department of Energy. Indeed, record would show. It was then Generals who were running the National Electrification Administration and the Department of Energy. In fact, a Presidential Decree had been issued which was PD-1645 named after M-16 and 45 Caliber and the power given to NEA were under Sec. 357, named after Magnum 357.

After the Edsa Revolution, the framers of the 1987 Constitution wanted to rectify such social wrong and created the Cooperative Development Authority as the sole registering agency of all types of cooperatives including so called Electric Cooperatives to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instrument of social justice, equity and economic development.

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the first Chairperson of CDA, Chair Edna Aberilla and the DOE Secretary, Emmanuel Pelaez that these so called ECs must register with CDA within three (3) years. An Omnibus Rules and Regulations were drafted to put the Agreement into reality.

But these so-called Electric Cooperatives have all these years created a strong cabal of vested interest. Of the 119 so-called ECs, only 13 were registered with CDA that have recognized the capital contributions of their respective member-consumer-owners. Those recently registered with the CDA have been questioned. Why are some oligarchs who are in energy do not want these ECs to become genuine cooperatives?

Well, such truism is manifested by the experience of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (DANECO). In 2013, it was registered with CDA because in a referendum, 50,000 MCOs voted for CDA, 1,500 for NEA, and 700 for SEC. After complying with all of the requirements, DANECO came into being as a cooperative. But the Oligarch (Aboitiz) was against that so through Sec. Jose Rene Almendras who was then the Cabinet Secretary of Pres. Aquino and very pro- Aboitiz went to the CDA Central Office and expressed his anger. In fact, then CDA Chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Santiaguel was charged in the Ombudsman but the case was dismissed. When Dr. Santiaguel ended his term and was replaced by yours truly who was adjudged guilty by the Ombudsman, for what? For issuing a Certificate of Compliance (COC) to DANECO. Why should a COC be issued? Well, DANECO did comply with all of the requirements and before the Chairman signed the COC, all of those CDA officials, i.e., regional director, lawyers, had already given their signatures. Thus, the signing of the Chairman was just ministerial! DANECO is now owned and managed by the ABOITIZ, thus, a social wrong has not been rectified, not even by an agency whose primary mandate is to foster the growth and viability of cooperativism as instrument of equity, social justice and economic development.

For doing his job, for doing what is right and what is true and what is just, a criminal case had been filed against him in the Sandigan Bayan. Recently, it is so amazing for the Sandigan Bayan when the Honorable Court promulgated the decision on the criminal case against former CDA Chairman Ravanera, declaring him NOT GUILTY devoid of any civil liability. Such should be known by the Ombudsman.

When will this social injustice committed against the 13 million members be rectified? The time has come to put power where it rightfully belongs, that is, with the people. Yes, these so-called ECs are providing light to their members, yet, they put them in the dark regarding the genuine ownership of the ECs and as member- consumer-owners, they are vested with rights that must be recognized. Cooperativizing the electric cooperatives is an empowering tool to liberate our people from the quagmire of poverty, to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes. It must first recognize the members as member-consumer- owners.

Yes, the root cause of poverty is the people’s powerlessness to have access and control over their utilities that they rightfully owned. But there are some oligarchs who cannot moderate their greed. As constitutionally pronounced in Chapter 15, Art. 12 of the 1987 Constitution: “The State shall promote cooperativism as instrument of equity, social justice and economic development.” Please remember the important essence of cooperativism as members-owned, philosophy driven and sustainability. Indeed, the so-called electric cooperatives as decided by no less than the Supreme Court through Justice Mariano del Castillo are cooperatives in name only and such should be rectified by the Cooperative Development Authority as stated in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. If you were the CDA Chairman and you would rectify that, you will be charged in court, harassed, and several attempts to life as what happened to me. To the 13 million MCOs (member-consumer-owners), please stand for your right as you are entitled to receive monthly patronage refund as MCOs as being done by electric cooperative in the United States and in other countries. HOY GISING! WAG NA PALOKO SA KASINUNGALINGAN. TO CDA, YOUR PRIMARY MANDATE IS TO PROMOTE SOCIAL JUSTICE PLEASE RECITIFY A VERY GLARING SOCIAL WRONG.


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