Power, Peace, and Place:

Why firms account for their actions


About the Book

This book tells the story of the Davao Multi-Stakeholder Group for Energy Concerns (DMGENCO) and how the group’s unique dialogue process shaped the paradigm and practices of one of the biggest energy companies in the country, more specifically in establishing an accountability mechanism to oversee the construction and operations of its coal-fired power station. It illustrates the story of how different voices came together to pursue shared objectives and trains the spotlight on the actors, rules, and processes that were central to the success of, as well as the challenges faced by those involved in this innovative model. As the title indicates, it weaves the issues of power, peace, and place into an exploration of why firms account for their actions.

What's Inside

01 Introduction
02 Review of the literature
03 Context
04 Before and after DMGENCO
05 Why did AboitizPower account for its actions?
06 Conclusions
07 Perspectives on a post-pandemic future

This section sets out the content of the publication by reminding the reader that the firm at centre, AboitizPower, has been present in Mindanao since the 1930s. We begin to trace the development of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how International Alert pioneered the concept of peacebuilding to the private sector.

CSR, peacebuilding, and other key themes are picked up in the literature review. In this chapter, the reader is introduced to Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, Loyalty (EVL) framework. The EVL framework was used to analyse the dynamics within the DMGENCO. It describes how the ability of individuals to not only express voice but also to see action was crucial in building trust and loyalty in the process. This section also raises the issue of (clean) coal, the links between the coal-fired power plant Therma South, Inc. (TSI) and climate change, and the importance of keeping an eye on the environment.

The TSI project shapes and is shaped by the context it sits within. This chapter explores the dynamics of peace and conflict in Mindanao, the need for energy, and the principles and corporate identity of AboitizPower.

This section provides the essence of the DMGENCO story – tracing the years preceding its formation, the critical junctures that created it, and the work the members put in since it was established. One critical juncture was the meeting between the leadership of AboitizPower and International Alert Philippines, which led to the formation of the DMGENCO, with Alert serving as its secretariat. This chapter provides an inner look at how the group developed and agreed on terms of reference, its careful selection of members, and the way it handled problems and brought in external experts–all crucial in building trust and loyalty.

In this chapter, the author brings back Hirschman’s EVL framework and presents an analysis of the DMGENCO process. Voice and relationship satisfaction were at the heart of the DMGENCO process and key to its success. One could argue it was not only the market that was driving companies to participate, but also the social networks of the individuals involved — individuals who carried with them a high degree of bridging capital. This chapter also points to the significance of the stakeholders’ commitment to place.

This chapter sets out the five key factors that explain how the DMGENCO process worked. These are: a shared sense of belonging to the area where TSI was located; the importance of members to voice concerns openly; the ability of the group to solve problems that were voiced; the facilitation of International Alert; and the presence of champions within AboitizPower.

The book was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but published at its height. This final section offers a perspective on the effects of the pandemic, drawing our attention back to the issues and concerns on global environment and renewable energy. The pandemic has shown how huge political shifts can be made ‘when push comes to shove.’ Given the need for a fast transition to a carbon-free economy, the author sets out the challenges faced by energy companies that continue to use (clean) coal and the need to ‘recast the energy mix so they can move forward with a stronger commitment to renewables in the immediate future.’


The Davao Multi-stakeholder Group on Energy Concerns (DMGENCO) group is a multi-stakeholder body that monitors and assesses the political, social, economic, and environmental effects of the Aboitiz (Therma South, Inc.) coal-fired power plant on the people and communities of Brgy. Binugao and Brgy. Inawayan, in particular, and Davao City and Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur in general. The group helps address different issues that emerge from the plant’s construction and operations, including risks to community security and local cultures and practices.


As it is a forum for engagement, the group is composed of people who come from different sectors and walks of life who are directly affected by the AbotizPower project. The group serves as a platform for collaborative problem-solving, meaningful dialogue among different voices and aspirations, and determining ways to enhance the project’s direct benefits to local communities.


The DMGENCO is a result of the partnership between Aboitiz Power Corp. and International Alert. The group was established in 2013.

About the author

Phil Champain is currently CEO of the Faith & Belief Forum, a UK charity that builds relationships between people of different faiths and beliefs. Prior to this role, Phil worked as Director of Emerging Programmes at International Alert where he helped set up the Philippines programme, together with operations in Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Lebanon, and the South Caucasus. He was amongst the pioneers of early thinking about the role of business in conflict, work which initially took him to the oil fields of Azerbaijan, co-editing From War Economies to Peace Economies in the South Caucasus, and the establishment of the Caucasus Business Development Network. Phil’s current peacebuilding focuses on the UK and the Philippines where he has kept in touch with the DMGENCO process since its inception in 2013.


Innovative practices of collective awareness- and commitment-building, authentic dialogues, complex problem-solving, stakeholder collaboration, and necessary transformation of language are shared by the DMGENCO narrative. Companies, members of civil society, local communities, and the academe can gain valuable insights from the DMGENCO’s “deep dives” for consideration in formulating their own strategies and approaches to this complex and ambiguous world.

Ma. Nieves R. Confesor
Adjunct Faculty, Retired Associate Professor and Former Dean of the Asian Institute of Management; Former Executive Director of the AIM-Team Energy Center for Bridging Leadership; Former Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment; and 2013 Gawad Maestra Awardee of the Philippine Society for Training and Development as Most Outstanding Leader Extraordinaire for a “proven track record of innovation, commitment, and excellence, through design, conceptualization, and implementation of projects that generate a positive impact.”
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