THE Utilities Consumers Alliance (Ucan)-Negros Island Region is urging the board of directors of Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. (Ceneco) to be a nonpartisan on the electric cooperative conversion.

Ucan legal counsel Vicente Petierre III said Friday, February 17, they were informed of a possible referendum based on the directive of the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

He said the referendum is all about giving choices to consumer-members whether they want their electric cooperative be under the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), or becoming a stock corporation and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or if they will be remain under the regulation and supervision of NEA.

“All of Ceneco’s directors are a fresh start, and there is a possibility that they will be given an extension or unlimited terms if they will choose to be under the CDA,” Petierre added.

The NEA had earlier issued a memorandum to Ceneco regarding the conduct of referendum for electric cooperative conversion.

Petierre said they are opposing to place Ceneco under the CDA or SEC because these are profit-oriented entities.

“It is okay that they will stay under the regulation and supervision of NEA,” he said.

He added that without touching on the pros and cons, their group is more concerned about the information and education campaign of Ceneco regarding three choices laid down before the consumers.

“We want our directors to be nonpartisan during the information and education campaign for the consumers. They should give correct information about the CDA, SEC, and NEA,” Petierre said, adding that they received information that some of the directors favor being with the CDA.

“They can perpetuate their power if they are under the CDA. This is not healthy as it will serve self-interest, instead of the interest of the consumer-members,” Petierre said.

Fr. Ernie Larida, president of Ucan, said they believe that the cooperative has yet to conduct the information drive and they were also informed that the referendum and Annual General Membership Assembly (Agma) will be held in one location only.

He said they are opposing holding a referendum and Agma on the same day because if there is any protest or complaint, particularly the result and proceedings of the referendum, it is highly impossible to resolve such matters in the Agma.

Laria added that a well-designed information and education campaign and honest-to-goodness information drive should be done first to ensure that all consumer-members are properly guided about the devils and goodness of the three choices.

The priest further said they are requesting the Ceneco management to be transparent on information and education campaign and make it public by publishing the guidelines of the referendum.

Malou Parroco, head of Coop Promotion Section of Ceneco, said they received a memorandum from NEA to conduct a referendum on or before January 15, 2018.

She said the board of directors agreed to conduct both the Agma and referendum on April 30 this year, and they already informed the NEA.