Power consumers show force, seek reforms in energy industry
MANILA, Philippines — Up to 5,000 power consumers gathered in Tagum City, Davao del Norte this week in a show of force as they vowed to take a bigger role in pushing for reforms in the energy industry.
The 1st National Summit of Electric Consumers organized by the National Center of Electric Cooperative Consumers Inc (NCECCO) on Wednesday, April 26, sought to empower rural energy companies and power consumers to take initiatives to improve the energy situation in their respective areas.
They agreed to oppose any future plan to privatize or convert electric cooperatives into a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC).
“Electric coops [are] owned by the electric consumers and should not be converted into a GOCC,” said NCECCO national chairman Akmad Mamalinta.
The group also called for the removal of value added tax on energy consumption to reduce power rates.
Form a movement
National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief Edgardo Masongsong was also present at the summit. He encouraged the attendees to form a movement that will fight for the rights of power consumers.
“Siguro ito na ang panahon sa pamamagitan ng NCECCO na palakasin natin ang ating mga sarili). Gumawa tayo ng kilusan, gumawa tayo ng mga programa at proyekto para iangat ang buhay ng lahat ng mamamayang Pilipino (I think this is the time, through the NCECCO, that we strengthen ourselves. Let's form a movement, develop programs and projects to improve the lives of all Filipino citizens),” Masongsong said.
NEA supervises 119 electric cooperatives nationwide, helping them become operationally reliant and technically efficient.
Masongsong is the former representative of party-list group 1-CARE and former general manager of the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative Inc (Buseco). He introduced the "Task Force Duterte Power," which aims to rescue electric cooperatives facing an economic meltdown.
Additional powers for NEA?
NCECCO national chairman Akmad Mamalinta welcomed Masongsong's leadership.
“The NEA as our partner is always there. We look forward to productive electric cooperatives that will cater to the needs of our consumers. We see a bright future,” Mamalinta said.
The NCECCO wants to give NEA additional regulatory and supervisory powers over electric cooperatives as they seek a review of the proposed amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).
“The realignment of so many activities, including the new policy thrusts of the NEA, spell out the difference this time around. We really see a bright future,” Mamalinta said. – Rappler.com