DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 February)—The provincial government of Davao del Norte lauded the filing of House Bill 6740 seeking to expand the franchise area of the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) to eight additional areas.
Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib, in a statement on Tuesday, said that the proposed measure is a “necessary piece of legislation” to address the perennial problem of power supply and exorbitant power rates encountered by residents of the province.
“HB 6740, if enacted into law, is a major milestone for the province of Davao del Norte as the expansion of the energy services provided by Davao Light will bring about a positive change to the lives of our constituents, providing them with reliable and efficient power supply,” he said.
He added that this would lead to a more sustainable and productive environment, driving economic growth and development in the province.
The new bill, authored by Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist representative Margarita Ignacia B. Nograles, was filed last January or just six months after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed HB 10554, which sought to amend Republic Act 11515, extending for another 25 years the franchise granted to DLPC.
HB 10554 would have placed Tagum City, Island Garden City of Samal, and the municipalities of Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro, and Talaingod under the franchise area of DLPC.
These areas are being serviced by the North Davao Electric Cooperative Inc. (NORDECO), which has an existing franchise for the mainland until 2028 and Samal until 2033.
In her explanatory note, Nograles said HB 6740 would seek to expand the franchise of DLPC by including those same areas in the vetoed bill, and the municipality of Maco in the Davao de Oro in the jurisdiction of DLPC.
DLPC currently services Davao City, Panabo City, and the municipalities of Carmen, Dujali, and Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte.
“Over the years, NORDECO has suffered from losses and conflicting factions within the cooperative which have led to inadequate infrastructure, piling debts to service providers including power suppliers, cancelled power supply contracts, excessive systems losses, and failure to energize parts of its franchise area even up to this time,” Nograles said.
She said NORDECO failed to address the problems and improve services within its franchise resulting in “frequent power outages, thereby impeding economic development.”
“The local officials acted on their constituents’ expressed desire to be liberated from NORDECO’s long-standing poor and unreliable electric service,” she stressed.
Nograles believed that expanding DLPC’s franchise “will redound to the greater good of the residents” and ensure “stable and reliable supply, and, ultimately, economic progress.”
Jubahib added that expansion of the energy services provided by DLPC will address the power supply problem of the province.
Marcos, in his veto message, cited some constitutional and legal challenges that led him to reject the HB 10554.
The President said that the bill would run counter to the provisions of Section 27 of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), mandating that “all existing franchises shall be allowed to their full term.”
He said that the resulting repeal of NORDECO’s franchise over expanded franchise area is violative of the non-impairment clause under Section 10 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
“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 said.
Marcos added that the amendatory law also constitutes a “collateral attack” of the existing franchise of NORDECO. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)