Cotelco giveth, Cotelco taketh away?

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/08 January) – For the Cotabato Electric Cooperative, giving a five-percent discount to their consumers who are
senior citizens as required by law, is a form of “social justice”. But others have called it “hypocrisy” on the part of the power firm.

Starting next month, Cotelco will implement the discount as required under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

But Cresmasita Golosino, head of Cotelco’s promotion and membership section, said the senior citizens have to apply before they may avail
of the discount.

“Application forms are now available in our main office and sub-offices in different towns in North Cotabato. This is because, at present, we have no records of residential power consumers who belong to the senior citizens group,” Golosino explained.

She added the individual power monthly power consumption must not exceed 100 kilowatt-hours.

“This is consistent with the fundamental and paramount objective of promoting the welfare of all persons, including the senior citizens,” she said.

Cotelco, however, will pass on to non-senior citizens the amount given as discount to elderly consumers, Golosino said.

“The cut is directly added to the non-senior citizens. It’s already programmed in our computer,” she said.

Some irate power consumers who are non-senior citizens see the act as “foolishness.”

“Lahat na lang ba ng burden ipasa sa mga consumers (Should all burdens be passed on to the consumers? Ang mas dapat gawin ng Cotelco ay
babaan ang (What Cotelco should do is decreased instead) the honorarium and privileges given to their board of directors, kasama na
ang kanilang (including their) travel and tours.” said Leo Reovoca, a resident of Nursery Phase 2 here.

“It’s so unfair. It is not our obligation to subsidize the power bill of the senior citizens. Why can’t the Cotelco carry such responsibility? Why are they making such move at the expense of ordinary power consumers like me?” asked Aida Labina, a psychologist who works at the City Social Welfare and Development Office.

“It’s like being fried in our own oil,” said Abby Pato, lead convener of the Citizens Food Watch in North Cotabato.

“That’s not right. Besides, not all power consumers are senior citizens,” said Bhergil Anima, host of a blocktime radio program here.

“It’s the highest form of hypocrisy,” said Alex Lopez of Sandawa Homes Phase 2 in Barangay Singao here.

For Ruby Padilla-Sison of the Education First, Referendum Later Movement (E-Defer Mo), a group of Cotelco consumers based in Kidapawan
City, the firm is evading its social responsibility.

“It’s passing the buck to other consumers while they reap the credit as ‘generous donors.’  It’s onerous, unjust, and deceptive.  Pag
nagbibigay, dapat nagmumula sa kanyang margin of profit at hindi ini-extract sa iba.  (If they want to give something, it must be taken
from their margin of profit and not extracted from others). For me, that’s social injustice,” she said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)