DAVAO CITY – The rift between rival managements in Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco) has left its consumers confused and wanting of a resolution.
Marcos Hidalgo, a dormitory owner in Tagum City said the quarrel made him wonder where to pay his bills.
“Before, we are paying our bills to CDA (Cooperative Development Authority) and after we learned that only NEA (Natonal Electrification Authority) is authorized by BIR, we are now paying to NEA,” Hidalgo said.
“There are members who are in the same predicament, either they pay to DANECO-CDA or to NEA,” he said.
Both groups are making separate collection of payments and installation/ maintenance of power supplies.
The rift between the two groups started when allegations of mismanagement of Daneco under NEA forced members and officers to hold a referendum in May 2012 to register Daneco as a stock cooperative under CDA.
NEA asserted its hold of Daneco by citing a new law that placed all electric cooperatives under NEA regardless of their affiliation. NEA had suspended the Daneco board prior to the referendum, that led to a legal battle over the legitimacy of the referendum.
The NEA petitioned to the Court of Appeals which ruled last June 24 that the referendum was nullified.
NEA’s legal counsel Attorney Julio Abenales said the CA decision is enough basis to turn over DANECO to their rein.
“The Court of Appeals decision has nailed down this issue. There is no reason for people not to pay us their electric bills,” Abenales said.
But the CDA remains firm that they still hold control of Daneco and both camps have to wait for the Supreme Court to review the CA decision.
Both groups continue to hurl accusation at each other regarding the management of the cooperative.
NEA’s legal counsel Jorge Rapista questioned the legality of CDA to collect bills as their receipts were not authorized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, unlike the NEA receipts.
The CDA said in its position paper that the BIR regional office granted consideration to CDA to use its old receipts because of the recently-concluded case at the Court of Appeals.
“We are aware that such receipts are now expired as far as BIR MC is concerned. But we cannot do anything because the other camp did not obey the Court order. The BIR Regional Office is not blind on this development, as per the reply of the said Office to our urgent letter of reconsideration,” the CDA paper said.
Another NEA counsel Julio Abenales said the CDA has to submit under the “supervisory and disciplinary powers of NEA” including mandatory and comprehensive as stipulated by Republic Act 10531 amending the role of NEA.
But the CDA insisted its operations were audited through a special audit last year covering the period of July 2012 to September 2013 conducted by the CDA Davao Extension Office.
The CDA explained that this was in compliance to a directive by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla during his meeting with both groups in Davao Waterfront Hotel last August 23, 2013.
The dispute has made consumers such as college professor Leomar Del Cueva from Maco, Compostela Valley concerned that money has been wasted from both sides for their legal battles.
“Our money is being wasted for their legal battle which until know remains unsolved. Because of their selfish interest, the situation is getting worse. If they will not stop, the problem remains the same. I hope that the national government will intervene also,” del Cueva said.
Member-consumers are also concerned that at stake is the power supply as Daneco has incurred half-a-billion in loans to power supplier PSALM.
Tagum City resident Marieta Valdez blamed local officials for their slow response to the issue.
“It’s high time that (Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario and Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy) intervene to resolve this issue immediately. The problem is they already know that this will happen but they are doing things very slow,” Valdez said.
Both governors and their respective provincial officials joined the August 2013 meeting with Petilla. The meeting called for another referendum slated on January 2014 but did not push through.
Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon reportedly is willing to step in with fellow mayors to help resolve the issue.
Daneco is one of the oldest electric cooperatives founded in 1971, as it currently serves some 50,000 consumers in sixteen towns, and two cities (Tagum and Panabo) in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte. (davaotoday.com)