Some notable changes were observed in the way the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative handled the recently held 143rd Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) compared to the last one three years ago.
First, of course, is the decision to hold the assembly in the capital town of Virac, where it should rightfully be as it accounts for majority of the more than 50,000 member-consumer-owners and has the largest venues to accommodate crowds of five thousand or more.
As early as 5 AM of Sept. 3, 2022, there were already people at Plaza Rizal waiting to register for the assembly but the FICELCO personnel actually began the computerized registration process only two hours later.
A step up from the previous manual procedure, the checking of one’s identity through the presentation of an ID and verification on the computerized list made registration a breeze but the large crowd meant there were still hundreds not processed by the time the assembly program began past 9 PM.
Upon registration, an MCO was handed a ticket for the meal and raffle that indicated his name, as well as bottle of mineral water and a burger.
So far, so good.
By the time the registration of the present MCOs was more than two-thirds completed, it was soon realized that the snacks and the meals were going to fall short: the more than 7,300 attendees far eclipsed the 5,000 that FICELCO estimated would attend the AGMA.
This occurred despite the fact that the cooperative management conducted a one-day pre-registration activity in selected barangays in all 11 towns.
However, as one observer noted, there was inadequate dissemination of the event, with many MCOs unaware that they could sign up for the AGMA ahead of time.
In another favorable development, FICELCO did away with the “roleta” method of drawing winners in the much-awaited raffle of prizes that include cash prizes ranging from P10,000 to P50,000 as well as a motorcycle, home appliances and sacks of rice.
Winners were drawn randomly using a computer and, as usual, they had to be actually at the venue to claim their prizes.
The prizes given away were so numerous that the second part of the AGMA, the raffle, actually lasted longer than the opening program and the business meeting combined.
Whatever changes there were, however, did not make any impact on how the cooperative’s real owners and the management conducted their business during the annual meeting.
Four measures were submitted to the multitude of MCOs for approval and all were presumably passed, with one resolution carrying the potential of being blown up into a controversial issue.
As one frustrated cooperative owner noted, one resolution was passed through a show of hands from the attendees and the other, concerning the future of the general manager, was approved through a “second the motion” by the previous board president without asking the MCOs to raise their hands in agreement.
As the number of consumers increases, the board should seriously consider allowing participation of the other MCOs thru Zoom or any online meeting platforms.
There is simply no incentive for majority of FICELCO’s owners to attend when the attention of those present are focused on the raffle prizes and not on the more substantive issues affecting the cooperative and its goal of providing affordable, reliable and efficient service.
To encourage them to participate online, they should likewise be included in the raffle.
FICELCO should continue and expand the pre-registration, both for the physical attendance and online, and provide those who registered with the agenda and copy of proposed resolutions at least a week before the actual AGMA.
Their votes and stand on the issues should also be aired during the business meeting so that the thousands present could at least be enlightened on the relevant matters at hand, instead of just staring at the prizes that practically filled the front of the stage last Saturday.
Absent these changes, the new board of directors should just as well call next year’s meeting as the Annual General Membership Raffle.