Davao Light accepts veto of bill expanding its franchise area

Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) linemen. Mindanews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 August) – The Davao Light and Power Company Inc. (DLPC) said it respected the decision of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to veto the bill expanding the franchise area of the Aboitiz-owned utility firm to seven more areas in Davao Region.
 
Fermin Edillon, DLPC community relations manager, said during the Kapihan sa PIA-Davao at the NCCC Mall VP on Friday, that the company acknowledged the authority of Marcos to reject House Bill 10554 on constitutional and legal grounds.
 
Approved on third and final reading last May 30, HB 10554 sought to amend Republic Act (RA) 11515, the law granting a 25-year extension to the existing franchise of the DLPC.
 
The supposed expansion would cover Tagum and Island Garden City of Samal, Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro and Talaingod towns in Davao del Norte, which the North Davao Electric Cooperative Inc. (NORDECO) currently services.
 
NORDECO has an existing franchise for the mainland until 2028 and Samal until 2033.
 
Edillon said the company respects the sentiments of the local government units (LGUs) of Davao del Norte, which initiated the move to change the distribution utility from NORDECO to DLPC.
 
“Other municipalities are asking for us to serve them,” he said.
 
He added he is not privy to the next move of the affected LGUs after the veto of HB 10554.
 
He said the DLPC would continue to provide quality services to its consumers within its franchise area, comprising the cities of Davao and Panabo, and Carmen, Dujali and Sto. Tomas towns in Davao del Norte.
 
In his veto message, Marcos cited “legal and/or constitutional challenge due to the apparent overlap and possible infringement into the subsisting franchise, permits, and contracts previously granted to North Davao Electric Cooperative Inc.”
 
He said HB 10554 contravenes Section 27 of RA No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, mandating that “all existing franchises shall be allowed to their full term.

The resulting repeal of NORDECO’s franchise over expanded franchise area would violate the non-impairment clause under Section 10 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution, and the amendatory law would also constitute a “collateral attack” on the existing franchise of NORDECO, he said.
 
“As acknowledged by the bill, NORDECO Inc. has ‘existing power supply agreements with generation companies that are provisionally or finally approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission’ that will necessarily be terminated or impaired upon the resulting repeal of North Davao electric cooperative Inc.’s franchise over the expanded area,” he added.
 
In a statement, NORDECO said Marcos’ stand on the bill showed his commitment to the total electrification program of the country mandated under Presidential Decree 269, creating the National Electrification Administration.
 
It said Marcos’s “recognition of the existing franchise of NORDECO shows his utmost respect for the laws of the land.”
 
“This is not only a victory for NORDECO, Inc. but for its more than 200,000 member-consumer-owners and the 120 electric cooperatives in the country which is the implementing arm of the government in nation building,” it said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)