Leyte Samar Daily Express
TACLOBAN CITY- A consumer group based in Naval town, Biliran is now in the midst of gathering signatures from power consumers in a bid to “pressure” the management of the Biliran Electric Cooperative (Bileco) to convert it into a cooperative.
Victor “Atok” del Rosario, provincial coordinator of the Nasecore (National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform), said that they are pushing for the conversion of the Bileco into a “real cooperative” for the advantage of the consumers.
Del Rosario said that under the country’s EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform) Law, power cooperatives are given the options to convert into a cooperative under the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) or remain with the National Electric Administration (NEA).
“We want the Bileco be converted into a real cooperative under the supervision of the CDA to make it as absolutely tax exempt, which could result to a significant reduction of power rates in Biliran,” he said.
At present, the Bileco charges P10.53 per kilowatt hour, which del Rosario claimed to be the highest electricity rate among the region’s power cooperatives.
“What we are fighting is for the interest of the member-consumers. Bileco’s power rate is the highest in the region. How can Biliran attract investors if the cost of our electricity is so high?” del Rosario said.
According to del Rosario, their group has joined forces on their signature campaign with some sectors notably the business sector as well as the barangay officials.
He said that they hope to gather 10,000 signatures out of the more than 25,000 member-consumers of Bileco which serves the provincial capital of Naval and all towns of the province except the island town of Maripipi.
According to del Rosario, the gathered signatures would be submitted to the officials of the power cooperative as well as to the members of the provincial board.
“We want to pressure them for them to heed the voice of the people seeking for conversion of Bileco into a real cooperative where the people would have a genuine ownership of the power cooperative,” he said.
He added that the projected 10,000 signatures would hopefully make the Bileco management initiate a referendum wherein the member-consumers would vote whether they would favor the conversion of the said power utility under CDA or not.
Del Rosario said that they hope that a referendum for this purpose could be held before October which signals the election period for the 2013 polls.
The Nasecore has been in the forefront for the conversion of all power utilities in country under the CDA. All the 13 power cooperatives in the region are still under NEA.