The need to protect and preserve rural electrification initiatives from the planned incursion of private commercial interests has found more champions and supporters who stressed recently that electric cooperatives (ECs) and people’s organizations should be kept as preferred partners and implementors of the decades-long government program to achieve rural development based on countryside electrification.
Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) President Presley De Jesus said in an interview after the 34th Annual General Membership Assembly of the Batangas I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BATELEC I) in Taal, Batangas that the EC sector has found crucial “allies” in three key LGU officials from Luzon and Mindanao who proclaimed that rural areas are better served by electric coops, adding that “rural electrification is best achieved with actual local stakeholders and not outsiders.”
PHILRECA is one of the largest groups of ECs nationwide and has 121 member electric cooperatives, serving over 12 million household connections nationwide. It also has a considerable presence in 78 provinces all over the country.
In an address before this years’ convention of the Philippine Federation of Electric Cooperatives (PHILFECO) last month at Ilagan, Isabela Governor Bojie Dy III recognized the vital role ECs played in stimulating growth in rural areas.
The Isabela official added that with the contributions of two ECs operating in the province, poverty incidence is expected to decrease further until it reaches the single digit level this year.
Misamis Oriental Governor Bambi Emano meanwhile publicly stated during the 50th founding anniversary of the Misamis Oriental I Rural Electric Service Cooperative, Inc. (MORESCO-1) that he strongly preferred ECs to power up local communities in his province than the private investor-owned utilities.
Emano stressed that most private firms tend to be selective in energizing communities, adding that “You cannot expect them to light up barangays that do not have plants or factories. They are only interested in areas that already have existing developments.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Councilors League (PCL) National Chairperson and Davao City Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang noted in a gathering of Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative member-consumer-owners last May 19 in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur that electricity services in rural areas should not be turned over to “rich companies.”
“Public utilities like water and power systems are better left with cooperatives, not profit driven companies,” Dayanghirang said in his message.
PHILRECA’s De Jesus welcomed these “separate but consistent” expressions of solidarity from key LGU partners, emphasizing that the drive for selfless public service is what separates ECs from private commercial entities.
“I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: the rural areas of the Philippines are better-off served and catered to by electric cooperatives. The rest are pretenders to missionary electrifiction. All they’re after is an easy take from economically-viable areas.”
De Jesus further insisted that PHILRECA and other ECs groups would continue to engage and enlighten the current administration on the needs and benefits of maintaining rural electrification in the hands of people’s organizations, as it has been since 1969.
“To the policy sector: the electric cooperatives, your partners in rural electrification for over four decades, do not deserve this kind of undue pressure. For nearly half a century, we’ve been frontlining for you as partners. You must remove the poor from the cross-hairs of predatory profit orientation. Stand with us on this, and stand your ground,” the PHILRECA head maintained.
The National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives, INC. (NAGMEC) through its President, Sergio Dagooc, also emphasized this when he said, “Many areas were ignored to suffer in darkness four decades ago because the private sector felt they were unprofitable; now that ECs have invested and toiled to put in place power lines and distribution infrastructure, the private sector will come in because it is now profitable for them? That is unfair to ECs.”