By Dave S. Albarado
The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) believes a “social wrong” will soon be corrected in relation to the lingering question on why some electric cooperatives remain unregistered with the agency and the benefits of being members-consumer-owners (MCOs) remain just a pipe dream for now.
At a press conference on Thursday at the Bohol Tropics Resort, CDA chairman Orlando Ravanera revealed that there has been a move by Pres. Duterte’s administration to correct the so-called “social wrong” and rectify the problem of electric cooperatives not registered with the CDA.
The top brass of the CDA was here in the city to attend the 3rd Central Visayas Cooperative Congress, a 3-day affair aimed at sharing some of the best practices in the operation of the cooperatives and strengthening the cooperativism movement in Central Philippines.
It was revealed during the press conference that only 13, out of the 199 electric cooperatives operating in the country, are registered with the CDA.
Benjie Oliva, a Boholano who is an administrator at the CDA, said both Bohol I Electric Cooperative (Boheco I) and Bohol II Electric Cooperative (Boheco 2) are not registered with the agency. He even came up with a certification.
Ravanera reinforced the fact, when asked whether there are any electric cooperatives in Bohol registered with the CDA, he coyly replied, “wala” (none).
The issue stemmed from the number of complaints from MCOs who have been asking about patronage benefits and dividends not being distributed to them, which is something that is normal in other forms of cooperative.
The questions led to the asking whether these electric cooperatives are registered despite carrying the name cooperatives.
Ravanera said, “I can tell you categorically they are not cooperatives. They are just using cooperatives in name.”
After the news about the revelation reached social media, the Bohol Tribune reached out to the two Bohol-based electric cooperatives for comments on the issue.
A source from BOHECO I who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the firm will be making a statement next week regarding the news that went viral on social media.
He said the board will be meeting to discuss ways to explain to the public the latest news about the non-registration of electric cooperatives with the CDA.
The Bohol Tribune also reached out to the Institutional Department of BOHECO II, but the text messages were unreturned as of press time last night.
Based on available data, the CDA in Region 7 on its annual report in 2016 said only Negros Oriental 2 Electric Cooperative (NORECO-2) is the only cooperative registered with the authority in the region.
Back in May 2017, it was reported in local newspapers, NORECO 2 even distributed patronage benefits and dividends, plowed back after gaining a surplus.
The Bohol Tribune sought to get more information on the practice of NORECO 2 but both the general manager and the manager of the membership department were out of town and cannot be reached for comments as of press time.
ON BEING COOPERATIVES
Ravanera cited a landmark decision of the Supreme Court in Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. v. Secretary of Interior and Local Government G.R. No. 143076, where three electric cooperatives and the Philreca petitioned for exemption from paying real property taxes.
An exemption to pay real taxes is extended to certain entities including cooperatives provided by Section 234 of the Local Government Code, as quoted by the SC.
The SC denied their petition
Ravanera said electric cooperatives must “adhere to the time-honored and universally accepted principles , democratic control, members participation, recognition of their capital shares.”
The electric cooperatives said Ravanera “are not autonomous and independent since they are under the marshal powers of the NEA.”
A social wrong is happening, said the CDA chairman, since the members-consumers-owners capital shares “are not recognized.”
“It is a social wrong that must be corrected,” stressed Ravanera.
In an attempt to electrify all rural areas in the country, then Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez wanted to know how to go about the scheme to provide power to the countrysides.
Ravanera said, “there are things in life that should not be subject of commerce.”
In 1969, they created an office called the National Electrification Administration (NEA), and under its aegis is the electric cooperatives.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) gave a $800 million grant to the country on the condition the distribution utilities become a cooperative.
Ravanera said in the 1970s it was discovered, the utilities were not operating as such they made to explain to members and told to conduct pre-membership education.
The World Bank allocated hundreds and millions of dollars the coops can implement seminars, said Ravanera.
When Martial Law came, said Ravanera, the NEA was controlled by generals they used the money for anti-insurgency operations. The administration was converted into a government-controlled corporation.
Ravanera said there was no clear accounting of the contribution of the MCOs.
When EDSA revolution came, the government created the CDA as the sole authority to register coops of all types and gave electric cooperatives 3 years to register.
“It did not happen,” said Ravanera.
Ravanera quoted Cabinet Sec. Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr. saying, “let’s abolish NEA.”
Evasco even asked him to make a draft executive order to be signed by the President.
The registration of electric cooperatives with the NEA is correcting “a social wrong,” said Ravanera.
He gave a hint that,” things are happening” but cannot reveal the plans in the works.
“It seems after 50 years social wrong will be corrected,” he said.
The “MCOs must be recognized; it will be a social wrong that must be corrected,” he added.
To put more fuel into the fire, Ravanera hit a “cartel,” which is so powerful that wants to control the electric cooperatives.
“But the Filipino people has awakened and the present admin is pro-poor and that will be a social wrong that will be corrected soon,” the CDA official said.