BENECO questions legitimacy of suspension order

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BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) questioned the real intention of the National Electrification Administration–Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) in issuing a preventive suspension order against general manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben and seven members of the board of Directors as the same is seen as another series of unlawful acts of the NEA-BOA to favor its appointee, lawyer Ana Marie Rafael.

BENECO board president lawyer Esteban Somngi stated in his letter to Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juanesa that ‘we stand firm by our position that the NEA-BOA has no authority to appoint Rafael. In the same view, we also question her legal personality to initiate an administrative case against us because she is not a member-consumer of BENECO. When she initiated the administrative complaint against us, we respectfully filed our answer, confident that this time, the procedures will be followed by NEA-BOA.’

Somngi cited that based on existing procedures, the administrative committee takes initial cognizance of the case and acts on preliminary matters, such as the issuance of the preventive suspension order if justified.

However, he argued that the NEA-BOA blatantly disregarded established procedures since the suspension order against them was issued and signed by Juanesa which is procedurally infirm as the NEA-BOA has no power to suspend them and that Juanesa has no authority to sign it.

The BENECO official implored on the NEA-BOA to be circumspect and fair in its treatment of the issue besetting one of the country’s top performing electric cooperative.

“We appeal to the NEA-BOA to recall the preventive suspension order and follow the prescribed procedure. We have to respect the case pending before the Court of Appeals filed by GM Melchor Licoben questioning the process of the appointment of GM done by NEA-BOA,” Somngi stressed.

He pointed out that the preventive suspension order against them is premature and that there is no legal ground for such issuance.

According to him, if suspension is justified, they will abide by it, provided that they will be afforded due process of law.

On the other hand, he stipulated that if the legal procedures are not followed, they will consider the same illegal and as a logical consequence, they will not follow it, more so that a negotiation with TEAM Energy purposely to stabilize power rate is ongoing.

Somngi also assailed the appointment of a project supervisor as the same is not in accordance with established procedures as the same must be based on justifiable grounds and that none of the said grounds exist in BENECO.

He emphasized that BENECO is not an ailing electric cooperative that is why the appointment is not justified as it is performing well amidst the ongoing health crisis.

Somngi emphasized that the issuance of the preventive suspension order is void from the start, including the appointment of a project supervisor, in fact and in law, thus, the same will be resisted and contested by BENECO. By HENT