4 NEA-BOA charged for grave abuse of discretion

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BAGUIO CITY  – Members of the Benguet Electric Cooperative Employees Union (BELU) BENECO Supervisors Association and some member-consumer-owners petitioned the Office of the Ombudsman to indict four members of the National Electrification Administration – Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) for allegedly committing alleged illegal actions and grave abuse of discretion that caused the prevalence of a leadership crisis in one of the top performing electric cooperatives in the country.

In a 52-page complaint filed before the Ombudsman, the BELU, BSA and MCOs named the NEA-BOA members to be charged as Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza, who is serving as the NEA-BOA alternate chairman and members lawyer Cerilo B. Badelles, Agustin Maddatu and Rene Gonzales.

The complainants accused the NEA-BOA members for such acts when its issued NEA-BOA Resolution No. 2021-47 and NEA-BOA Resolution No. 2021-71 that flagrantly violated NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 or the prescribed rules in the selection, hiring and termination of general managers of electric cooperatives.

Further, the NEA-BOA members committed illegal acts when they decided to name and appoint former Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Rafael as the BENECO general manager despite her lack of qualifications pursuant to NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035, especially on the required 5-year experience in handling the affairs of a successful electric cooperative or related businesses and trainings and seminars related to the said position.

The complainants claimed that the aforesaid NEA-BOA members abused their discretion when they endorsed as general manager of BENECO Rafael based on her score in the final interview which is in violation of the aforesaid NEA Memorandum and blatantly disregarded the results of the background investigation, the recommendation of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Psychology and the results of other related examinations.

According to them, the NEA-BOA members committed illegal acts when it decided to process the application of Rafael despite the lack of vacancy in the position of BENECO general manager as evidenced by the absence of a formal application submitted to BENECO and for unilaterally entertaining an application that was filed before President Rodrigo Duterte whose office does not have any supervision over BENECO.

BENECO is a cooperative duly registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) pursuant to the Cooperative Development Act or Republic Act (RA) 9520.

The complainants pointed that the insistence of the NEA-BOA to name Rafael as BENECO general manager goes against the essence of corporativism as described in the pertinent provisions of RA 9520 and that its decision to do so is a travesty of the law and its constitution and by laws.

The complainants argued that even the NEA’s Code of Governance enshrined in NEA Memorandum No. 2020-01 dated January 7, 2020 gives due respect to the role and power of the Board of Directors of electric cooperatives where it provided that the Board of Directors is primarily responsible for the governance of the cooperative. The business and affairs of the cooperative shall likewise be the responsibility of the Board of Directors which shall formulate and adopt policies and plans, promulgate rules and regulations for the management, operation and conduct of the business of the cooperative, and exercise all of the powers of the cooperative, except those that are by law, the articles of incorporation or the by laws conferred upon or reserved to the members of the cooperative or reserved by the NEA.

The complainants asserted that based on the facts of the case, the NEA-BOA members allegedly committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction and for patently violating NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 and NEA Memorandum No. 2018-004 in insisting on the appointment of Rafel as the BENECO general manager.

On May 11, 2021-, the complainants earlier filed before the NEA-BOA an appeal for reconsideration asking for a review and reversal of NEA-BOA Resolution No. 2021-47 but to date, the NEA-BOA has yet to answer the same.

Moreover, the BELU and BSA also wrote the NEA-BOA on August 4, 2021 inquiring on why the NEA-BOA disregarded the statement of NEA Institutional Development Department manager Nollie Alamillio that Rafael failed to show proof of her qualification of the 5-year managerial experience of a successful distribution utility; the February 1, 2021 and the Memorandum of the Administrator saying that the UP did not recommend Rafael as BENECO general manager.

They explained that the public officials involved in the said case have failed to uphold the public interest as mandated by law and that they have grossly violated pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6713 or the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which provided that all public officials and employees shall uphold public interest over personal interest, the violator is a government official or employees and is thus within the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) that such official or employee is in the discharge or execution of his official duties and that in the discharge thereof, the official or employee failed though his acts or omissions to uphold the public interest over his personal interest.

Jurisprudence defined misconduct as the intentional wrongdoing or deliberate violation of a rule of law or standard of behavior. To constitute an administrative offense, misconduct should relate to or be connected with the performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer. In grave misconduct, as distinguished from simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of an established rule must be manifested.

Moreover, misconduct is among the grounds of disciplinary action, but no officer or employee in the civil service shall be suspended or dismissed except for cause as provided by law and after due process. It is cogent to mention that the revised uniform rules on administrative cases in the civil service, which govern the conduct of disciplinary and non-disciplinary proceedings in administrative cases classifies grave misconduct as a grave administrative offense.

The Supreme Court (SC) also ruled that a constitute conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service when they tarnish the image and integrity of public office. RA 6713 enunciates inter alia the State policy of promoting a high standard of ethics and utmost responsibility in the public service.

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