BENECO board junks questionable NEA-BOA resolution

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BAGUIO CITY – The Board of Directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) rejected Resolution No. 2021-71 of the National electrification Administration – Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) that appointed Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Paz Rafael as general manager of the electric cooperative because the same is contrary to the pertinent provisions of NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 and its previous decision on the matter rendered more than a year ago.

With a vote of 6 members in favor of the rejection and 4 members against, the board also rejected the signing of the performance management contract of the NEA-BOA’s appointee which was attached to the questioned resolution.

Instead, the board reiterated the validity of Resolution No. 2020-090 that appointed Engr. Melchor S. Licoben as general manager of the electric cooperative that was approved way back on April 21, 2020 pursuant to one of the modes in the selection of general managers of electric cooperatives contained under NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 where the same resolution and other follow-up resolutions were never officially acted upon by the NEA.

The board was compelled to advance their scheduled meeting purposely to deliberate on the questionable NEA-BOA resolution after tension erupted at the BENECO headquarters over the past several days when the Rafael camp insisted to assume office because it was their interpretation that the assailed appointment took effect last August 27, 2021 when the document was officially received by BENECO management and the board.

The act of the Rafael camp to forcibly enter the BENECO headquarters with the aid of personnel from the Cordillera office of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-CAR) for her to be installed into office was described by consumers as unethical and unprofessional as they allegedly tried to muscle their way against the will of the ordinary employees protecting the BENECO property.

The controversy even caused the declaration of the NEA-BOA members and Rafael as ‘persona non grata’ in BENECO that evidently triggered the brewing conflict between the camp of the NEA-BAO appointee and the appointee of the BENECO board.

Earlier, Baguio and Benguet officials requested the feuding parties to the position of BENECO general manager to respect the status quo order issued by the House committee on energy pending the issuance of its committee report on the ongoing investigation of the alleged over reach of the NEA-BOA of its powers in the appointment of general managers of electric cooperatives.

However, the Rafael camp ignored the issued status quo order handed down by the House Committee on Energy when the NEA-BOA appointee, together with his supposed battery of lawyers and a platoon of NBI-CAR agents, allegedly forced their way inside the BENECO headquarters in the guise of assuming the post that was from the start never vacant due to the existence of BENECO Board Resolution No. 2020-090 that appointed Engr. Licoben as the general manager that took effect last May 1, 2020 where the same was never acted upon by NEA, thus, by virtue of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6713 or the Code of Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees where all communications must be acted upon within 15 days, the same took effect way back last year that is why there was no position of general manager to be opened.

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