Table Talk: Electric coops in the country PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 13:46

BY Mike S Apostol

It was the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos , who created electric cooperatives throughout the country with a mandate and vision to light up every house, even nipa huts in the country and at the same time organize consumers into cooperatives for them to manage the affairs and operation  of their electric cooperative, since all electric cooperatives are retailers of electric energy.    However, the operation must be non-profit but only a little income for expenses in operation like maintenance and salaries of its employees. The national government created an independent office to manage the affairs of electric cooperatives called the National Electrification Administration (NEA). This is the reason that during its early existence, electric cooperatives were not included with other coops under the former RCDAO now it’s the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).  NEA was given a budget and accepted foreign grants for the assistance to cooperatives, like the purchases of transformers, electric poles or posts, electrical wires, etc. etc. because the income for the retail of electric current by the coop is just enough to pay for the purchase of electric current from Napocor now NGCP and for the maintenance of its operation. Some of the financial assistance given to coops are soft loans while some are grants from foreign countries, hence it’s for free (for more information, please ask your coop information office).
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Now, the issue of bringing electric current to the last nipa hut in the country is a good mandate and slogan of all cooperatives, but it is also the nemesis of cooperatives,and one of the main reasons why cooperatives almost go bankrupt even if there is no competition in the retail of electric current in a given city. Cooperatives are made to shoulder the enormous cost of energizing far flung barangays to a point that even payment for electric purchases from NGCP are withheld to prioritize the cost of energizing one barangay. It is in fact a losing proposition, because the cooperative spends millions of pesos to energize one barangay with a monthly collection of less than 20,000 pesos. And worst, elected government officials sometimes pinpoint barangays for energization for their own political purpose without sharing the cost of connection or subsidizing the construction. The mandate to bring electric current to the last nipa hut in the countryside is not only draining the coffers of the coop but being abused by some officials of the cooperative by overpricing the construction cost and also exploited by elected government officials for political purposes at the expense of the electric cooperative.
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One way to save ailing cooperatives from going deeper into debts with their suppliers is to temporarily stop their mandate of energizing far flung barangays, unless it is a grant and at no cost to the cooperative or the city or province that requests for energizing a barangay will shoulder all the cost of connection. There is no Return on Investment (ROI) for the cooperative and even if cooperatives are non-profit institution, “but never kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.  When the cooperative is in a position to follow its mandate, then, by all means light up all barangays to spur economic activity.
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Also, consumer-members of the cooperative in a general assembly must amend their Constitution and by-laws, one that is sincerely the idea and conscience of the member-consumers of a cooperative and not copied from other cooperatives. One of the most revealing fact in all cooperative by-laws is the provision of qualification for a Board Director, if it cannot be an appointment from the different sectors of the community, it must at least devise a provision so that the members of the board of a cooperative will not be dominated by barangay chairmen, who most of the time are controlled by the mayor of a locality.

We must separate politics from cooperativism. It will destroy the essence of self-governance, independence, self-sufficiency and help and above all politics divide unlike cooperatives unite people.
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Scoop: Are trisicad (sicad-sicad) in the city allowed to traverse main thoroughfares and highways? Is a barangay given the authority by the city to have sufficient control of these mushrooming “sicad-sicad” in the city? Are there policemen assigned to control these new “king of the roads” ? Or are policemen in cahoots with the activities of some “sicad-sicad” drivers who are sometimes caught as “neighborhood thieves”? Next issue — Pestering “sicad-sicad” in many barangays.