Consumer group to work for more empowered consumers in 2011

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/27 December) – Promoting consumer welfare and protection will form the core of Konsumanteng Kagay-anon Inc.’s plans to work for a more empowered consumers in Northern Mindanao in 2011.

KKI plans to carry this out by mobilizing public and private support for consumer welfare and protection rights. It also identified the media as a major player in empowering the consumers.

Among the problems bugging consumer welfare and protection is the “indifference of consumers to issues and concerns affecting them”, KKI said, adding, the lack of concern by government on issues affecting the consumers has aggravated the problem.

KKI’s advocacy next year will focus on basic services and utilities like power and water, in particular consumer protection against unjustified power and water rate hikes and improved water and power services.

KKI Convenor Mike Banos said that “there is a need to work more for consumer welfare and protection as well as advocating for locally produced products as this supports micro, small and medium enterprises.”

Power consumers in the city have scored several victories this year like when KKI and the Cagayan de Oro Power and Light Company (Cepalco) won against the Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement (Aspa) application of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) for the operations of the power barges in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and Maco, Compostela Valley.

The Energy Regulatory Board had ordered a P0.5 refund for the ancillary fees being collected by NGCP and TMI. It also ruled that the power barges and baseload power plants should not be dispatched as ancillary services as these are more expensive.

In November this year, the KKI was able to convince Cepalco during the mandatory revenue requirements hearing at the ERC to reduce power rates from 2011 to 2014.

The cut translates to a P10 reduction in the monthly power bill of the 200-kilowatt hour consumer households starting July 2011, P20 in 2012, P30 in 2013 and P40 in 2014.

A campaign to turn the “losing” Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) into a cooperative has also been waged since 2007, but it has not succeeded due to lack of support from City Hall.

The COWD is a city government-owned and controlled corporation.
In the consumer product front, the Cooperative Sector of Northern Mindanao inaugurated early this month the Cooperative Market inside the Manresa College of Agriculture Complex of Xavier University.

The CM mostly sells products produced and processed by cooperatives from all over Northern Mindanao. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)