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With no vote to the contrary, 14,010 members of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) opted in three annual general membership assemblies to convert the power distribution firm into a stock cooperative.
“Conversion into a genuine cooperative is our only shield against capital speculators eyeing to buy Beneco, especially now that it has developed into one of the country’s most viable power distribution system,” explained general manager Gerardo Verzosa.
During the conssultations, Verzosa pointed out that at least two electric cooperatives in the country had already been taken over by a private power company.
Verzosa had steered Beneco to become one of the most viable and successful cooperatives in the country under a conversion system designed by the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
“Whatever gains the cooperative has achieved should be for the benefit of its memer-consumers, not giant private firms whose main aim is profit,” Verzosa added.
Marcos, during his martial law dictatorship, ordered the privatization of the telephone system, conversion of water systems into government corporations and the power distribution system into “non-stock, non-profit” cooperatives.
Operating as such, Beneco underwent numerous changes in management until Verzosa was appointed manager by the National Electrification Administration which practically has sole power over electric cooperatives, including the right to veto resolutions passed by their general assemblies.
In the three recent general assemblies, Beneco members in Tublay voted 2,476 against 0 for conversion, followed by 3,234 – 0 in Bokod and 8,300-0 last June 15 at the Burnham Athletic Bowl here in Baguio.
Under Verzosa’s leadership, Beneco turned from a financially troubled distributor into one of the country’s viable cooperatives.
Beneco, led by president Rocky Aliping, captured eight national awards during the 2018 national Lumen Awards last April 28 in Tagum City.
Topping the honors was the “Single Digit System Loss of the Year” award for Beneco’s success in reducing its “system loss” to 9.08 percent, resulting in savings amounting to millions of pesos.
“System loss” refers to electricity losses that always come when current is distributed through the wires, from the power plant to the end consumer.
Beneco likewise got the award for its 100 percent collection efficiency, reduced power rate of P7.1292 per kilowatthour, lowest power rate (on grid) , best in collection performance, model headquarters facilities, Triple A category award, certificated of recognition for participation in Task Force Kapatid for victims of Typhoon Lawin and Typhoon Nina, and exemplary management awad for the general manage,
Backing up the move for Beneco’s conversion into a genuine cooperative and shield it from being taken over by private power developers are former Beneco general manager Peter Cosalan, former national cooperatives president Renato Fernandez and other local leaders of the coop movement.
By Ramon Dacawi