Samal plunges in the dark, Nordeco swims in debt

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DAVAO CITY –Frustrated and Angry!

That best describe Governor Edwin I. Jubahid’s and Mayor Al David T. Uy’s feelings on the services of the former Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, now the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative, in Davao del Norte (Nordeco).

Residents of Samal are united in their opposition to Nordeco, whereas those on the mainland of Davao del Norte feel deceived by the services provided by their cooperative as cooperative members and customers.

Everyone in Samal wants to move to Davao Light and Power Company, not only for better services, but also to provide good power to upcoming investors who may provide them with jobs.

Elma Tanhusay of Barangay Cawag said the intermittent power supply is a problem especially that her daughter is studying online.

Samal resort owner Mario Reta said his operation is inspired by his own power generator “I am having my own generator because the power supply is not reliable”

According to Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Al David Uy, “The power distributor here is run by oligarchs, but we need to act legally because this involves a congressional franchise and only the House of Representatives has the right to terminate franchise.”

Island Garden City Of Samal Mayor Al David Uy.-Newsline Photo

Governor Edwin Jubahib, who admitted to Newsline, was an ally of the Nordeco residents. “I am weary of waiting, people are exhausted, we need to act now, they must allow private power suppliers to come in, our people have suffered long enough, and our economic progress has been hampered,” Jubahib says in his most recent State of the Province Address, delivered on July 1, 2021.

In an interview with Newsline, Mario Angelo Sotto, the Nordeco’s 5th regular manager, admitted, “It was really ailing before I got in, but we introduced reforms, we improved lines, and we are trying our best to improve our service.”

But, according to Jubahib, nothing has changed “perwisyo” (uncomfortably), because even though the management has changed in 2019, people are still unhappy with the service, which is why he is spearheading a petition to have Nordeco’s franchise revoked by the House of Representatives.

The former-DANECO was in disarray for decades, having been split into two wings, one called Daneco-CDA (Cooperative Development Authority) and the other Daneco-NEA (National Electrification Administration), both of which collected charges from the same consumer.

Governor Edwin I. Jubahib (extreme left) explains to the residents of Samal his effort to change the power distributor of the province saying it hampers the investors to pour capital given the power limitation,

Many consumers complained that their payments were not reflected when Daneco-CDA disconnected their power supply due to late or non-payment, and when the two feuding groups unified in 2019 through the intervention of Jubahib and other officials, many consumers complained that their payments were not reflected, resulting in a ballooned bill.

However, Sotto stated that all inactive payments were exempt from fees and interest.

Sotto has requested an extension of two years from the provincial government of Davao del Norte in order to improve their services, but Jubahib has stated that he has had enough and that the next option is to allow a private power provider, the Davao Light and Power Company, which is owned by power giant Aboitiz.

DEBT AND CORRUPTION:

Sotto admitted, “Naa tay utang na P2.8-billion when I assumed office, but it has become P1.5-billion in a period of one year and four months,” the same reason he mentioned as he needed more time to resolve all of these.

Thus according to records obtained by Newsline, Nordeco owes San Miguel Consolidated Power P664,878,012.23 as of March 31, 2021, and another P364-million to Davao Light (the figure does not show the interest).

According to Uy, the power company received a P80-million loan in 2016 to modernize their lines and services, but the cost was passed on to the customers via Capital Expenditure or Capex.

 “We are paying, everyone is paying, yet their services is wanting,” Uy emphasized.

Nordeco manager Mario Angelo Sotto. Facebook Photo

Concerned Daneco member-consumers filed a case of embezzlement, abuse of power and discretion, and graft and corruption against the cooperative’s manager and board members sometime in 2014, according to newly installed Cooperative Development Authority Chairman Joseph Encabo, but he is not aware of the case’s current status.

Encabo stated that before the CDA was taken over by the NEA (as required by law), there was a power problem, as well as a lack of transparency in the collection and accounting of coop funds.

“Not during my watch” Sotto claimed, saying it cannot happen because they present their figures every general assembly which happens once a year.

Sotto said they have 125,000 coop member/consumer and they are transparent in their expenditure which he said they are presenting during the general assembly (that we years ago though given the pandemic).

Sotto, who is serving his second term of office said, he cannot account to the previous management but said “I need to face all these because I am the General Manager.”

BRIBE

Jubahib is spearheading a public campaign to encourage Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte to cancel Nordeco’s franchise and allow them to find a trustworthy power supplier.

However, Sotto claimed that a private firm offered them a large payment for the takeover, but they declined.

According to a Newsline source, Nordeco executives seek P11 billion to seal the sale and allow Davao Light to take over, but the deal fell through because the power company claimed Nordeco’s assets were worth far more than the price.

Sotto said that Davao Light used Jubahib and Uy as their mouthpieces in order to secure the deal, but the officials flatly disputed his claims.

“I am the Governor, I listen to my people and I am their father, no one has offered me anything, it is my duty, they are my constituents,” Jubahib said.

“What? I want good power service! We do pay good, but the service is very very poor,” Uy emphasized. 

Reprieve

Sotto has sought another two years from the Davao del Norte provincial administration to improve services, but Jubahib has declared that he has had enough and that the next option is to allow a private power provider, the Davao Light and Power Corporation, which is controlled by the Aboitiz company, to operate.

Jubahib promised to put a stop to the people’s suffering, but Nordeco’s franchise will last until 2033, according to Sotto.

Uy, on the other hand, stated that they had endured enough: “The promises have remained promises, and we are fed up. Set us free, Nordeco — we are exhausted, and we need good service.”-Editha Z. Caduaya

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