CEBU, Philippines – Labor unions and associations from forty-two rural electric cooperatives (RECs) and various consumer groups have gathered here Tuesday for a two-day conference, aiming to advance the interests of RECs’ workers and consumers in the country.

The participants also launched “Koop Ko ‘To” (This is my cooperative) Movement during the conference which was sponsored by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), National Solidarity of Unions (NSU) and National Solidarity of Associations in Electric Cooperatives (NSAEC).

Milo Tanchuling, FDC national secretary general, said that conference developed an alternative agenda for electric cooperatives and the power industry as a whole. It also adopted a vision that will push for the democratization of REC’s governance.

“The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) failed to deliver its promise of lower electricity rates to the Filipino people. And worse, it transformed the state monopoly to corporate private power oligarchy.” Tanchuling said.

He added that the conference also came up with a plan on how to challenge EPIRA as “there is a need for a paradigm shift.”

FDC said this paradigm shift entails transforming electric cooperatives member-consumers as owner of cooperatives rather than as mere consumers or captive market. “This is the major aim of Koop Ko ‘To Movement,” stressed Tanchuling.

Joshua Mata, APL secretary general, the newly-created movement will push for the democratization of the power industry, for the rejection of privatization and deregulation framework which the current energy law espouses, and for development of an alternative agenda to EPIRA.

Mata stressed that there will be no real expression of democratization of power industry unless there is an ownership claim by the workers and members themselves of their cooperatives. (30)

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