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!