7 BENECO directors hit back at NEA-BOA

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BAGUIO CITY – Seven members of the Board of Directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) hit back at the members of the National Electrification Administration – Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) as they filed charges of violation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against them in relation to their insistence of appointing an unqualified and not recommended applicant for the position of general manager of the electric cooperative.

In their affidavit complaint, BENECO board president lawyer Esteban Somngi and members Mike Maspil, Peter Bosaing, Josephine Tuling, Fr. Jonathan C. Obar, Robert Valentin and Jeffred Acop sought the indictment of the NEA-BOA chaired by Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juanesa and composed of Edgardo Masongsong, Augustin Maddatu, lawyer Alipio Cerilo Badelles and Rene Gonzales for violation of the anti-graft law.

The complainants prayed before the Ombudsman that the NEA-BOA members be dismissed from the service and be perpetually disqualified from holding public office or employment because of their blatant violation of the laws, rules and regulations governing the selection of general manager of the electric cooperative.

The complainants claimed that in endorsing lawyer Aa Marie Rafael to the BENECO board for appointment because she garnered the highest score in the final interview and in disregarding the board’s rejection of the same, the NEA-BOA gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Rafael to the damage and prejudice of the member-consumer-owners who are in danger of being dis-in franchised in appointing their own general manager through their duly elected members of the board who are charged of selecting from the list of qualified candidates as required to be submitted by the NEA-BOA.

According to the complaint, the sole endorsement of Rafael and the exclusion of Engr. Melchor Licoben by the NEA-BOA without any justification whatsoever was made with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

Moreover, the NEA-BOA acted in an arbitrary, whimsical and capricious manner by virtually treating BENECO board as its ‘rubber stamp’ in favor of Rafel and usurped the right of the board to appoint its own general manager as provided by existing laws, rules and regulations.

Worst, the tenor of the NEA-BOA notice dated May 6, 2021 has practically reversed the right of the board to appoint its own general manager and instead the NEA-BOA virtually required the same to confirm the appointment of Rafael.

NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 provided that the NEA-BOA is duty-bound to submit all candidates to the BENECO board to exercise its right to appoint or terminate the services or suspend a general manager in accordance with the guidelines set forth.

Even granting that Licoben is not yet appointed as the permanent general manager by the board, the complainants argued that the least that the NEA-BOA should have done was to include Licoben in the list of qualified candidates for submission to the board for selection or appointment pursuant to the NEA memorandum.

The complainants explained that all the facts of the case were designed to favor Rafael for appointment as general manager despite the latter being disqualified from the start because of her alleged failure to meet the 5-year experience in the management  of a successful electric cooperative, the appropriate trainings among others despite the appointment made by the board for Licoben based on Resolution No. 2020-090 where the latter is obviously qualified for the position of general manager.

The complainants stated that the NEA-BOA resolution in endorsing only one applicant and insisting Rafael’s appointment to the BENECO board as general manager is a clear violation of the NEA memorandum that prescribed the selection rules.

Based on available records attached to the said case, Rafael did not actually file her application to the BENECO board, including her resignation as Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the approval thereof in violation of Section 26  of Presidential Decree 269 as amended by Republic Act 10531 aside from the fact that she is not a registered member-consumer-owner and has no registered account with BENECO for the last 5 years immediately preceding election or appointment.

The complainants emphasized that she has not also attended at least 2 annual general membership assemblies in violation of the fit and proper rule under Section 26 as amended by RA 10531. By HENT

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