Keynote Address of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos, Jr.

20 May 2011

Speech-Keynote-address-MORESCOKeynote address of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos, Jr.
41st  Annual General Membership Meeting and 43rd Anniversary of MORESCO I, Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental
May 20, 2011

The board of directors, officers, and the employees of MORESCO 1, distinguished guests, our local government executives here present, friends, ladies and gentlemen

Good morning, maayung buntag sa inyong tanan!

First of all, let me congratulate MORESCO 1 and all its members for their 43 years of valuable, dedicated and highly productive service to the community and to the nation.

You have done much, of which you can be truly proud. Let me recall just a few of your many achievements:

MORESCO 1 was the country’s first registered (on 21 may 1968) non-stock electric cooperative, and also the first to be energized (on 11 september 1971). You  brought true area-coverage electrification, i.e.,electrification that is available round-the-clock, of high quality, reliable and low cost, to all ten towns covered by your franchise – Opol, El Salvador, Alubijid, Lagunidingan, Gitagum, Libertad, Initao, Naawan, Manticao and Lugait. You energized not only these towns, but all their barangays as well. And as the most meaningful aspect of this program – you brought electricity down to household level, and you now serve more than 59,000 households, almost a 100% of all the households in the MORESCO 1 area.when you started, the country was only 10% electrified, electric service was available only in major population centres, and usually, only from sunset to midnight, and the electric power provided was not of the quality that could support income-earning activities. That you brought24/7 electric service now to almost 100% of the population in the franchise area is, indeed, a vital contribution to our national development. I do remember that when you started this program, because of the awesome difficulties and birth pains of this pioneer undertaking, your theme song was “the Impossible Dream.” Now you have turned that dream into reality. You truly deserve the country and our people’s heartfelt congratulations.

Many of us, especially those among the younger generation who were born to an already electrified world, tend to take electricity for granted, and may not be fully aware of the heroic struggle of the electric cooperative pioneers in bringing electrification in this country to its present level. It is truly fitting that we hold celebrations such as this, if only to recall the challenges that were met, the difficulties that were surmounted, and the efforts that were so selflessly and patiently invested by our electric cooperatives in the pursuit of our national electrification dreams.

Your achievements have not been limited to providing area coverage electric service alone. You also initiated and pursued several innovative programs which were so patently effective that they were adopted and replicated in many other provinces of the country.

For example, in the early 1980’s, MORESCO piloted two rural bliss housing projects – one at Initao and the other at Lugait. These projects covered roughly one hectare of land each, subdivided with 50 homes, provided with roads, water systems, electric power, a schoolhouse and a community hall, all for the cost of only P1.0 million each. This was a typical electric cooperative innovation. A project would be started only when the prospective beneficiaries of the project were able to obtain, at least, a one hectare lot donated to the project. Also, these projects were located in areas where the coconut trees were so tall and old that these could be cut down and sawn into coco lumber for the building frames of the houses - all cost-cutting measures that have become the trade-mark of electric cooperative operations. These projects, as well as the guidelines and procedures for their implementation, were so successful that these were copied in 90 other locations in the country.

Another project was MORESCO’s piloting of rural water works systems (levels 2 & 3) using electric pumps. Here again, the project was so successful that its procedures were adopted shortly afterwards by the rural water development corporation in developing rural water systems nation-wide. These systems continue to operate today, more than 40 years after they were built.
The discipline, community spirit, selfless dedication of electric cooperative personnel in the prosecution of all these projects, have become the hallmark of electric coop operations. Would that all of institutions in our country, public and private, emulate these qualities.
As we look to the future, we ask what is in store for us, what are the challenges that we face.

First of all, the gap between our power generation requirements and our existing power facilities must be bridged. Already, the frequent rotating brownouts in the Mindanao grid give us clear warning signals. There is an urgent need to install additional power generation plants soonest.

We should look to our hydro resources as our first alternative. The Agus river and the Polangue river systems, the source of some of the cheapest electric power in the world, can still accommodate additional plants.this resource must therefore be fully utilized. In this regard, MORESCO and seven other electric cooperatives in northern Mindanao, in another pioneering effort, have taken the initiative to form a consortium that will build a 32 mw hydro plant along the Bulanog-batang river system at Talakag, Bukidnon. However, let us not forget to complement the building of hydro plants with a massive reforestation program, if we are to sustain and enhance the continued availability of our hydro resources.

Mindanao has its own geothermal power plant now at Mt. Apo. But more efforts should be made to avail of the abundant reservoirs of geothermal energy in the country.

While we look to “green” alternatives for additional power sources, we have to accept, for the time being, the construction of additional coal-fired plants as bridge projects (since coal-fired plants take the least time and cost to put into operation), as we develop our more environmentally-friendly energy resources.

We must optimize the utilization of our wind and solar energy resources.

While the Philippines is blessed with an abundant supply of solar energy, present costs of fabricating solar power plant equipment make power from this source still not competitive with power from other available sources. However, world industries are concentrating their efforts in looking for means to make solar power more competitive, and we expect a breakthrough that will soon enable a significant reduction in the costs of fabricating solar power equipment, thus making its power competitive with those derived from other sources.

Meanwhile, a pioneer two hectare (1 mw) solar power unit (crystalline type) has been in operation in Cagayan de Oro for several years now. The province of Ilocos Norte is starting its own solar power program with a five hectare solar power farm. This project is expected to become operational in three years time. The experience derived from the operations of these pilot projects will be valuable in planning larger solar projects in the future.

Wind power, aside from being environmentally friendly, can be generated at costs almost competitive with those of other conventional plants (hydro, coal-fired, geothermal). We now have the first Philippine operating wind power farm of 20 windmills (generating 33 mw) now feeding into the Luzon grid, in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. Many other sites for additional wind power plants have been selected. These plants, when completed, will add, at least, 200 mw of power to the Luzon grid.  Mindanao should be able to identify sites for its own wind power plants.

Nuclear power, although environment-friendly and one of the most competitively priced power source, (there are 436 commercial nuclear plants in 30 countries that now generate  15% of the world’s total electric energy output), cannot now be an acceptable alternative here, in view of recent events at Fukushima. When a truly fail-safe nuclear plant becomes available, the nuclear alternative may again be included in our list of viable alternatives.

The Philippines, being an Asean member nation, we may also consider hydro-electric power transmitted by submarine cable from Borneo. Plans for an Asean power grid have been discussed extensively, and its realization may come sooner than we expect.

In addition to solving the power generation gap, we also look forward to a more effective utilization of available power. We expect that the advent of the broadband system (which uses fibre optic cables) will make modern day technology such as internet, enhanced telecommunications, high-definition cable tv, etc., most of which are available only in major population centres, universally available to our rural population, at rates lower than those in urban centres. How will we be able to do these? The utilization of already existing electric cooperative infrastructure – poles, substations, ec personnel to administer the program, etc., will significantly reduce the program costs, so that rates for these services will definitely be lower than those in the urban centres.

The progress of on-going pilot broadband projects in Penelco (Bataan) in Inec (Ilocos Norte) are highly encouraging. Bataan will start its broadband operations on 15 july 2011. The Ilocos Norte broadband project will be inaugurated and made operational on 11 September 2011. Mindanao can look forward to start its participation in the broadband program starting early next year.

All of these undertakings will succeed only with presence of the spirit of volunteerism, innovation, patient and dedicated service to the people, all of which have become the distinguishing characteristics of electric cooperative operations. I say this in view of the growing threat that private businesses may soon move to take over electric cooperative operations.

Some parties opined that since area-coverage electrification is already in place in most parts of the country, then non-stock electric cooperatives are no longer  needed, and that these should be replaced, initially, by stock cooperatives and, eventually, by stock corporations. Because the basic infrastructures for electric distribution systems are now in place, and electric coop operations have been shown to be financially viable, these operations now become highly attractive to private parties who foresee significant instant profits with only a minimal investment in capital and effort. The danger here is that, stock cooperatives, instead of using earnings for keeping the lowest rates possible for the member-customers and enhancing the power plants and other benefits for the community, will now use said earnings to provide the dividends for stockholders.

This conversion is being promoted by people who see only the prospects of immediate personal profit, but fail to see the social consciousness, the spirit of volunteerism, the pioneering innovations necessary for the countries development, that electric cooperatives have help develop in the process of providing vital electric service to its member-customers.

This threat must be firmly and vigorously resisted. I am certain that the people will stand behind MORESCO and the other electric cooperatives all over the country, and will demand that non-stock electric cooperatives must continue to operate.  I am sure that we will prevail. I commit myself, especially in my position as chairman of the committee on local government, to support the non-stock electric cooperative concept and operations.

In closing, let me congratulate again MORESCO 1 for being the pilot of so many programs that have brought progress to our rural areas and the country as a whole.thank you very much for making me a part of your celebration.  I wish you all the best of luck and more sustained power as you continue to meet the challenges of the future.