Saturday, July 4, 2009

The CASURECO 2 Predicament

The Metro Naga Consumer Group endorsed and supported the entry of Mons. Nono Sanado into the cooperative’s Board of Directors as a final gesture for fostering transparency and accountability to consumers by the coop management and workers. His entry was not easy, made more difficult by the political and economic interests at play in the electric cooperative. Fortunately, Mons. Sanado got the support of the majority of the Directors.

UNFORTUNATELY, the road to transparency and accountability is not an easy one. Legal and administrative cases have to be filed and refuted. Internal and external hindrances have to be confronted. Even sectors within the cooperative eventually ended up fighting each other, further deepening the factions within the organization.

As the cooperative reels from these difficulties, the central question remains: WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE CONSUMERS? Some would say they are mere product purchasers with no actual influence in the management, production, and service delivery. Others say the consumers are merely individuals/corporate entities buying electricity from the cooperative. Others would assert that the consumers are the actual owners of the cooperative, although technically marginalized by the present set up!

If you are an individual consumer like me, you end up wondering about concrete experiences with the cooperative:

YOU ARE ASKED/REQUIRED TO:
a. pay membership fee
b. vote for Directors of the Cooperative
c. encouraged to attend the General Assembly as the highest policy making body of the cooperative

BUT YOU EXPERIENCE THAT:
a. you do not get any benefit from THAT membership aside from actually being allowed to purchase electricity
b. NEA (a government agency) directly supervises the cooperatives, with the BoD as an inferior entity
c. the cooperative is a corporation wherein the personnel remits their social security payments like private corporations do

This dilemmas actually run smack into some issues which the electric cooperative must be able to resolve: (1)Is it a cooperative or a corporation? (2)Is it owned by the members, by the government, or private individuals/corporations? These questions must be confronted by the consumers, particularly because the electric cooperatives are instruments for the delivery of a basic service industry: power.

I am convinced that the policy environment among electric cooperatives is ripe for adventurism among various political and economic interests, leaving the organization vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation.

May we therefore ask the consumers to take a stand: Do we claim ownership of our electric cooperative? Do we simply leave it open to various players dipping their fingers into the power industry?

Feel free to leave your comments here!

42 comments:

  1. Renne
    Thanks for posting your views about the need for member-consumers to raise their voices and assert their interests, instead of only waiting for the electric coop BOD and management to settle their problems. Although I don't know the details, there seems to be another crisis coming to a head in Casureco 2. Is there any way for you to spearhead the initial organization of member-consumers, so that there is another voice that takes part in the discussion and resolution of the conflicts?

    We are at the early stage of organizing the Electric Consumers Advocacy of the Philippines, so can't immediately intervene. But we can support efforts of consumer leader-advocates who can give us a cue on what is happening and what needs to be done.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ed:
    Thanks very much for the openess to collaboration with ECAP. The Metro Naga Consumer Group had a meeting last week and had agreed among others to retain the character of the group: individual and organizational voluntary membership with my office as the secretariat. Such structure is flexibole enough for rapid mobilization tbough leaving some area for improvement in the institutionalization aspect. Will continue to update you on CASURECO 2.
    -ren

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well the owners can opt to claim it and convert it into a real cooperative. They can put in stocks (money) and earn dividends (if the cooperative is earning.

    Problem is, since electric cooperatives are subsidized by the government, that subsidy now stops when it decides to detach from NEA. What happens when Naga is stuck by typhoons? Who will subsidize 48 million (Reming) to rehabilitate the lines? And what happens to fa flung areas which are not fiscally rewarding? Will the cooperative still commit to extend its lines to serve a few consumers, and accumulate line losses.

    There lies the predicament.

    If it is up to me, I would turn into privatization, and make this as profitable as Meralco.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Salamat Enteng. Magandang talalakayin ang mga usaping ito ng mga konsumidor mismo. Pero batay sa namamasdan ko ngayon, ang hirap makapasok ng mga consumers sa mga desisyon at isyu sa loob ng kooperatiba. Para bagang napaka-ekslusibo ng mga usapin sa pagitan ng board, management, at nea. meron na ngang mga nagmumungkahi ng people power dito!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sir,
    I think this is a management problem which is to be resolved internally. May I personally ask you, what has been the direct, immediate and specific effect of our problem to consumers?

    Actually we are sugarcoating our problem because we have not abandoned our work, even at the midst of delayed salaries and management disputes.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. marhay na hapon po Sir Renne,
    ano na po status kan conversion into stock coop kan CASURECO II ?
    salamat po

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