FICELCO scraps Baras-Gigmoto district election for lack of qualified candidate

With not one qualified consumer filing a bid for the board seat, the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) was forced to cancel the election for District I (Baras and Gigmoto) scheduled last Saturday, June 25, 2022.

Thus, member-consumer-owners in the two towns will remain unrepresented in the FICELCO Board of Directors for some more months until the district election is rescheduled and at least one qualified MCO files his or her Certificate of Candidacy.

According to cooperative sources, NGO leader Onofre Haber, who was reportedly interested in the post, was disqualified for his failure to attend at least two (2) Annual General Membership Meetings during the period from 2017 to 2021.

Another would-be director was disqualified outright as his or her spouse was a candidate in the May 9, 2022 local elections.

Next up in the series of weekend elections for the board seats is District II (San Andres) where former Dir. and retired teacher Julian Soneja, 72, of barangay Sapang Palay has reportedly filed his CoC along with former barangay captain Alicia Arcilla, 58, of Cabungahan, and former US-based overseas worker Salvador Arcilla Jr., 70, of Comagaycay.

The screening of the three candidates were conducted last Friday, with one of them allegedly set for disqualification in the absence of attendance in the AGMM. The district election in the island’s second biggest town is set on July 2, 2022.

In District III (Bato), Dir. Rodolfo Vargas could retain his post if no one from among the qualified MCOs file for candidacy in the July 9 election.

In District V (Virac), which has gone unrepresented in the BOD since 2018, at least one former board candidate has secured a copy of the CoC for the July 16 poll.

In District VI (Caramoran & Pandan), only Dir. Arsenia Bernacer has so far indicated interest in joining the July 23 contest.

Incumbent Robert Aquino of Panganiban is also running for reelection in District VII (Viga, Panganiban & Bagamanoc), with no potential rival in sight.

Majority of the candidates in recent FICELCO district elections are retirees, including the winner in the June 18, 2022 special election in San Miguel.

Emma Bueno, who recently retired from FICELCO, defeated incumbent Dir. Marilyn Robles and will hold her post for just a year, after which a regular election will be held for the full three-year term.

Observers attributed the dearth of qualified candidates to a general lack of interest among MCOS, spurred by interference of power industry players as well as local politicians in the elections.

This was also worsened by the FICELCO board’s decision to rotate the hosting of the AGMM among the districts, disheartening many member-consumer-owners who prefer it to be held in the capital town of Virac than in the faraway northern towns.

A source told the Tribune that for the Sept. 3, 2022 AGMM, the board has allowed those in-charge of the preparations to decide where the meeting would be held in Virac.

A few years ago, the AGMM in Virac was held at the Plaza Rizal covered courts but the facility has yet to be repaired by the Sarmiento administration since its roof was damaged by super typhoon Rolly in November 2020.

While the incoming administration of Mayor-elect Samuel Laynes has reported prioritized the repair of the covered courts, it would probably be delayed due to lack of material time to secure funding and conduct the bidding.

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