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Bizz Buzz: Davao power utility troubles

/ 05:16 AM January 21, 2022

A n electric cooperative in the Davao region, which is operated by the National Electrification Administration, is facing increasing scrutiny amid calls from an angry and impatient public for the termination of its franchise.

Six local governments in Davao—Tagum City, Samal, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro, Talaingod—have signed their own resolutions calling for a new electricity provider that will replace Northern Davao Electric Cooperative Inc. (Nordeco) due to various issues from frequent brownouts to poor customer service.

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The local government units are supported by at least seven large business business groups in the area, we’re told.

Even Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin Jubahib has joined the growing calls for Nordeco’s ouster.

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“We hope Nordeco will respect the decision of the people of Davao del Norte,” he said last month. “Our people can no longer pay P2 to P3 per kilowatt-hour, while having more brownouts and bad service and having no representation in the board.”

But there’s also brewing action in the political arena.

Last month, the House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill that would cut off Nordeco’s franchise area. Should the bill pass into law, consumers will finally see an improvement to their situation as their electricity will soon be provided by a private company. The third reading of this bill is scheduled for this January.

The problem is that both chambers of Congress are moving at a glacial pace.

Meanwhile, Nordeco has ramped up its lobbying to prevent its fate from being sealed, releasing a position paper saying that ending its franchise would derail the national government’s Sitio Electrification Program.

But will it? Based on its 2018 annual report, Nordeco has brought electricity to only 63.56 percent of rural areas it is supposed to serve. In comparison, the best-performing cooperatives in the country have electrified almost 100 percent of rural areas covered by their franchises.

And as of December 2021, Nordeco was charging P10.27 per kwh to consumers, nearly P2 higher than what its regional peers are charging.

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Will lawmakers finally end Nordeco’s franchise or will the consumers’ ordeals continue? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

PTAA in a tizzy

The induction of a new set of officers and trustees held together with the first general membership meeting for the year of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) is usually a routine affair that is conducted without a hitch.

But not this year, as 68 individuals, including 10 past PTAA presidents, two former EVPs and three former VPs, current members and leading tourism industry figures such as Bobby Joseph, chair of SKAL Makati and head of Network of Independent Travel Agencies, have issued a statement questioning why the current PTAA leadership headed by president Michelle G. Taylan decided to invite Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the guest of honor, speaker and inducting officer for the Jan. 27 event.

They “strongly condemned” the decision to invite Marcos, saying that PTAA, considered the most prestigious travel association in the Philippines, is an apolitical national organization and “shouldn’t be used as a tool to promote a political agenda or any personality running for national office.”

“Inviting a presidential aspirant and labeling him as the guest of honor is tantamount to campaigning for and endorsing him as the organization’s candidate for the upcoming May 2022 elections,” they said. “It is only respectful to the organization and its members to keep PTAA free from politicking and electioneering.”

The signatories noted that PTAA, which was founded in 1979, had invited politicians to important events but then they were not running for any public office, thus their opposition to Marcos’ participation in the important PTAA event later this month that will also mark the launch of the 29th TravelTour Expo 2022.

“By inviting [Marcos] … the current leadership has disregarded the views of a lot of its members and this action could lead to deep divisions within the organization,” they said.

Will their stiff opposition convince the current board to change their minds? Abangan!

—Tina Arceo-Dumlao
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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Davao, electric cooperative, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA)
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