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The country’s electric cooperatives came out last Feb. 14 in protest over a recent recommendation of Energy Secretay Alfonso Cusi to revoke the franchises of 17 ailing coops “without undergoing due process”.
Here, the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), one of the most successful energy distributors in the country, staged motorcades in the simultaneous “Valentine’s Day Protest” over what they perceive as a move towards eventually allowing private capitalists to gobble up viable cooperatives.
“While said recommendation was withdrawn by Secretary Cusi days after its submission, electric cooperatives were once again placed under public scrutiny and caused damage to the movement’s public image,” noted general manager Janeene Depay Colingan of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca).
Philreca claimed Cusi’s endorsement letter to the House of Representatives and the DOE statement were meant “to manipulate the mindset of the public for them to think that the electric cooperatives are not performing well. And with this comes the justification for the entry of private, for-profit and zero-experience corporations”.
The “Black Valentine Protest” was anchored on “magnifying the protest of the electric cooperatives over the discriminatory treatment of the DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi towards the electric cooperatives by proposing the cancellation/revocation of the franchise of the 17 electric cooperatives that will eventually lead to a precedence of revocation of other electric coops and be evaded by the private businessmen.”
Wearing black, electric coop employees heightened the dismay of member-consumer-owners against DOE Secretary Alfonso Gaba Cusi who is expected to supposedly to be the father and defender of the electric cooperatives and electrification program but turned out to be the opposite.”
The protest action was also meant to heighten the dismay of member-consumer-owners against Cusi for giving more favor and courtesy to the private businessmen who are interested over the operation of the electric cooperatives.
The threat of big, private corporations to buy out electric cooperatives has also prompted the Beneco towards registering with the Cooperatives Development Authority as a true cooperative, thereby shielding it from being bought by private and profit-oriented companies.
Through the efforts of its General Manager, Gerardo Verzosa, its board led by Nicasio Aliping Jr. and employees, Beneco turned out to be one of the most viable electric cooperatives in the country today.
By: Ramon Dacawi