Today, SURSECO-I is a beacon that has outshone the challenges of time. More than four decades of commitment and fortitude in service have molded the coop to what it is now.

SURSECO-I is the first electric cooperative organized in the province of Surigao del Sur. In pursuing the mission of electrification, it has energized all the 138 barangays in the coverage area comprised of Bislig City, the municipalities of Lingig, Tagbina, Barobo, Hinatuan, including Lianga and San Agustin, which were then part of the franchise area. Its three 5-MVA Sub-stations strategically located in Tabon, San Fernando and Barobo are now serving a total of 59,282 member-consumers. Indeed, ever since its foundation of, SURSECO-I has become a catalyst of socio-economic development in the province.

Early years of SURSECO-I

The Surigao del Sur I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SURSECO-I) was instituted on July 20, 1971 when it was incorporated and registered as an electric cooperative with the National Electrification Administration (NEA). SURSECO-1 is among the 10 pilot electric cooperatives which sparked the revolution of light in the country. GM Eufemio V. Darunday, who was then the incumbent Mayor of the Municipality of San Agustin, concurrently served as the cooperative’s first General Manager. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) of the United States of America, the National Electrification Administration, together with the Board of Incorporators who were at the same time the interim Board of Directors, GM Darunday and his first set of employees were instrumental in the establishment of the cooperative that would then become one of the most outstanding electric cooperatives in the country.

The initial loan granted by the NEA in the amount of Php 26,599,000.00 signed on August 3, 1971, financially embarked its mission of energizing this part of the country. It subsequently funded the early construction of the distribution lines, purchase of lot, machines and equipment necessary for the operations, and construction of office buildings, which was set in the coop’s six hectare land, and other operational expenses. SURSECO–I, back then, did not have its fixed organizational structure; instead, each employee was as incidental as the need arose for more manpower.

Just like any other pioneering ventures, SURSECO-I had its share of “birthing pains.” There were some interested parties in the local government who expressed interest in running the coop’s operations. Mayor Alfredo B. Cosico, Bislig’s mayor during that time, was one of those who campaigned for SURSECO-I’s independent administration under the supervision of the NEA. Also, the energization itself is a gargantuan task considering the terrain of the area.

Setting the pace

The first energization in Bislig on October 1, 1974 signaled the beginning of the coop’s gigantic mission to accelerate the countryside progress through efficient and dependable electric service. This remarkable development reached Hinatuan District on November 3, 1974. This series of energizations was made possible through an arrangement with the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) as its temporary power supplier, pending the completion of the NPC’s Bislig-San Fernando 69 KV line construction during that time.

Management shifts

On March 5, 1975, Mr. Romeo Sulit of the NEA was designated as Acting General Manager upon the resignation of GM Darunday. This change of administration also urged the institution of the first elected set of the Board of Directors whose main function is to formulate the coop’s policies. Five (5) separate elections in the districts of Bislig, Hinatuan, Barobo, Tagbina and Lianga were held from March 16-20, 1975. Fortunately, all members of the Interim Board, who were also the original incorporators, won the first district elections conducted in their respective districts. Judge Daniel R. Sindo. This institutional development spurred the effort in extending the reach of the electric service, in adherence to the Rural Electrification Program.

Mr. Sulit was then replaced by Mr. Domingo A. del Castillo on February 5, 1977. Upon NEA’s approval, Segundo V. Cuyno, Jr., who was then the Director of the Member Services Department, was appointed to the coop’s top post on October 15, 1978. At this time, SURSECO-I was one of the growing institutions in Bislig which provides not just the much-needed electricity but also livelihood for Bisliganons and those from the neighboring municipalities

Reaping the rewards

On June 6, 1979, another breakthrough reinforced the coops’ existence as an electric cooperative. The National Electrification Commission issued the Certificate of Franchise and authority to operate for a period of fifty years. Under the leadership of GM Cuyno, this development further fueled the coop’s zeal in realizing its mission of electrification. The concerted effort of the coop with its partners in service, led to the energization of Barobo and Tagbina on April 26, 1981. In May of the same year, Lianga was also lighted. SURSECO-I tapped its power source from the National Power Corporation through the Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative (ASELCO) to serve the northern part of its coverage area.

By the first quarter of 1986, NPC’s 69 KV line construction was completed. It linked Bislig to San Fernando where the coop’s first 5 MVA substation was situated. As a result, power voltage was improved and made the energization of remote areas possible. In fact, in 1989, the coop had already energized 57% of the barangays across the coverage area. Thus, this progress complemented the booming economy of Bislig brought about by the presence of PICOP, which was then the largest paper company in Asia. Moreover, it was also during this time that the coop severed its contract with PICOP as its primary power source.

The years of diligent work and prudent management of the cooperative were not left unrecognized. It was during the leadership of GM Cuyno when the coop earned national awards and citation from NEA, which included the Lowest Average System Loss, Highest Collection Efficiency and Category “A” classification.

Blazing the trail

Unfortunately, the untimely death of GM Cuyno on December 4, 1988 brought in another management shift in the coop. By virtue of Board Resolution No. 42-S-88, Mrs. Nimfa G. Ontua, Administration Division Manager, was designated Officer-in-Charge from December 4, 1988 to July 17, 1989. In the same year, the Board of Directors recommended to the NEA the appointment as General Manager of Mr. Claudio S. San Pablo, then Operations Division Manager of the coop.  The appointment was then confirmed on July 17, 1989.

GM San Pablo vigorously pursued the advancement of the Rural Electrification Program during his term. The energization of Lingig on August 8, 1989 was a significant achievement as it completed the lighting up of all the districts in the coverage area. A year after, SURSECO-I bagged three (3) national awards. The coop was chosen as one of the Outstanding Electric Cooperatives.

In November of 1990, the member-consumers of San Agustin, a municipality within the political jurisdiction of the 1st District of Surigao del Sur and within the coverage area of SURSECO-II, requested for the transfer of the town’s membership to SURSECO-I’s. The General Assembly

Likewise, the NEA’s selection committee conferred the Outstanding General Manager Award to GM San Pablo, and the coop also retained its Best in Collection Efficiency Award. In 1995, the coop was a recipient of the Category A+ Award, Best in Collection Efficiency, Outstanding General Manager in the Philippines for large coop category and Member of the Hall of Fame-Region XI Award.

The mission was carried on under the stewardship of GM Rafael J. Rabaya who was installed into the post January 20, 1999 upon the demise of GM San Pablo. Under his leadership, the coop successfully energized all the 138 barangays, with Rajah Kabunsuan and Bogac, Lingig being the last two barangays energized on December 31, 2001. This remarkable feat was applauded by the NEA by conferring the coop a Special Citation Award in August 2002.

Creating bridges

With the progress in the coop’s operations, SURSECO-I strengthened its linkages with the Local Government Unit, especially with the House Representative of the then lone District of Surigao del Sur and with the current 2nd District of the province. Congressmen Jose G. Puyat, Jr., Ernesto T. Estrella, Jesnar R. Falcon, and Florencio C. Garay were instrumental in the energization of the barangays, having alloted a hefty amount from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to finance the energization projects.

As it was also impossible for SURSECO-I management & personnel to carry out the institutional, technical and financial operations by themselves, associations were also formed to reinforce the coop in the continued implementation of the Rural Electrification Program. The Barangay Electricians have been tapped to facilitate the housewiring installation and the Deputized Meter Readers have been responsible in the reading of kWh meters and collection of payment, especially in remote areas. The Barangay Power Association (BAPA) is also one of the major reinforcements as it encompasses the technical, financial and institutional operations of the coop. To date, there are 33 BAPAs across the coverage area. In the aspect of information dissemination and consumer representation, the Institutional Services Department closely collaborates with the Member Consumer Electrification Committee or known today as the Multi-Sectoral Electrification Advisory Council (MSEAC). It complements in the institutional strengthening of the ECs by providing the network for a dynamic participation and solidarity of member-consumers.

Riding the tide of time

Unfortunately, with the decline of operation of PICOP, Bislig’s major industry, the socio-economic activities in the area were greatly affected. SURSECO-I was not spared in this crisis since PICOP was its highest contributing industrial consumers with an average consumption translating to a more than two million peso monthly revenue. This figure drastically dropped to just Php 360,000 monthly revenue at present. This greatly affects not only the sales but also the coop’s system loss.

This period was financially challenging for SURSECO-I. The coop also entered into an institutional crisis. Some radical changes were made in order to shield the coop from the predicaments brought by the challenges of time. In two years, there were three OIC-General Managers who steered SURSECO-1 into its recovery. Mr. Gregorio R. Varela, Operations and Maintenance Division Manager, served from March 1, 2005 to August 14, 2005; Mr. Joceler M. Moralda, former Finance Division Manager, served from August 15, 2006- November 30, 2006; and Mr. Arthur L. Laquihon, Chief of the Administrative Division, served from December 31, 2005-February 15, 2006.

Finally, on February 16, 2006, Atty. Edwin M. Malazarte was installed as the new General Manager of the cooperative as confirmed through Board Resolution No. 14-S-2006. Reforms in the organization, advancement in the operations, human resource development, and automation of systems are just some of the programs that GM Malazarte implemented in response to the need of the modern and competitive market as mandated by the RA 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2011 (EPIRA Law).

SURSECO-I gradually pulled through the crisis in the fiscal year of 2008 when it earned a Net Income of Php 1,910,917. This financial performance was a remarkable indicator of recovery from the incurred losses of Php3,487,647 in 2007 and the combined losses of Php15,440,050 for years 2006 and 2005. GM Malazarte’s unwavering commitment for the coop’s rehabilitation was rewarded as SURSECO-1 was conferred with a Special Award for Category A+ Electric Cooperative by NEA on April 28, 2009.

With the transfer of Lianga and San Agustin in October 2007 to SURSECO-II, where the political identity of these municipalities belong, the coop had a reduction of 4,504 consumers which translates to an average annual revenue reduction of 19 million pesos. This made GM Malazarte even more persistent particularly in the improvement of the Collection Efficiency, lowering of System Loss and revitalizing the institutional dynamism of the coop. Yet, upon GM Malazarte’s resignation, Mr. Antonio Teddy P. Ronquillo, the Institutional Services Department Manager, served as the OIC-General Manager for two (2) months, from November 17, 2010 to January 15, 2011.

Another beginning

Reaching the 40th year is indeed a new beginning for SURSECO-I. On the 16th of January 2011, GM Malazarte passed on the mantle of leadership to his successor, Mr. Joceler M. Moralda, who was then the Manager of the Cortet Office. GM Moralda’s management puts an emphasis on the continuity of positive changes that have been established and initiating new ones.

The coop, though facing a daunting situation nowadays brought about by the nationwide power crisis, will remain steadfast in its mission of total electrification at the least possible cost. SURSECO-I gears itself toward the achievement of its vision of becoming a competitive player in the industry. Guided by its principles of Integrity, Commitment to Service, Excellence and Solidarity, SURSECO-I will continue to be devoted in taking committed service to greater heights.