Zamcelco’s ‘power for people’ PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 May 2015 14:54

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

Outgoing Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has advised the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative to decide now for urgent solutions to eliminate blackouts in the city. The choice given to Zamcelco is risky for its survival but the Secretary says it is the only way out of its predicament. We will not delve deeper into the consequences of frequent blackouts because it can be seen and felt. What is important is we can initiate the best move to free the city of a man-made but solvable economic calamity. Man-made because the problem can be predicted through real facts and forecast, solvable because we have the tools to fix them. The blackout problem is all over Mindanao, Secretary Petilla says and national government cannot do more to help in this problem and only the affected electric cooperatives should be in the forefront on this crisis. The NEA, DOE and ERC cannot do much but offer assistance of protocol. In short Secretary Petilla is telling Zamcelco to help “itself” before it drowns itself in this Mindanao energy crisis that is now a mess for the whole city which  owns the electric cooperative.

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The first step for Zamcelco to recover from this terrible mess is for the city government to offer assistance by redefining her role in the cooperative existence, The city covernment and Zamcelco must work as partners for progress and not as a management competitor. The city government with all her power and authority can do so much to alleviate the financial and technical problem of the cooperative. The City Council for one s a very powerful body when sitting En-Banc must not act as consultants and as “brokers” for privatization for the cooperative. It must instead act as the “guidance counsellor”, because after all, Zamcelco is an asset and resource of the city and whatever happens to Zamcelco the whole city is affected and nobody, city officials or not, are exempted from the consequences. The city should separate “politics” and “administration” on the cooperative, because business and politics can never go together like oil and water that cannot be mixed.

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On the other hand, Zamcelco management must stay within their confines and know their limits. They should not also treat the special law that created electric cooperatives throughout the country as a  purely different law,  independent and untouchable by local government laws. The special law for electric cooperatives under the National Electrification Administration (NEA) is to sepaprate it from the Peoples Cooperative that gives patronage refunds to their members and their membership fee earns dividends while electric cooperatives membership fee becomes a non-earning trust fund of the cooperative and treated like an equity for the subsidy that the national government through the NEA extends. The national government’s intention on this scheme and system is to make electric cooperatives viable even if they are non-profit entities. However, amidst this special treatment given to electric cooperatives, they are not exempted from the scrutiny of the consumer members who own them (per se) and the consumer members are represented publicly by local government officials and not their management and board who work at the pleasure of the consumer members who elected them into office. The cooperative by-laws must not be compared to the Local Government Code. This should be the first move that Zamcelco and the city government must initiate, before anything else, so there will be no “washing of dirty linens in public” when the city gets dark.

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Scoop: “Power to people” is the best logo, because in places the cooperative’s mission in just one sentence. More power GM Ledesma keep up the good work until all your hair turns gray and when that time comes you have gained wisdom.