BENECO suffering from leadership crisis

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BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) one of the country’s top performing electric cooperatives, is now suffering from a leadership crisis with the machinations employed by the National Electrification Administration – Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) insisting the appointment of an applicant who happens to be one of the Assistant Secretaries of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO).

Tension among BENECO officials and employees and the camp of former PCOO Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Rafael continues to escalate after the latter insisted to assume office in violation of existing laws, rules and procedures and the appropriate notice from the Board of Directors on her appointment and assumption into office

BENECO board president lawyer Esteban Somngi pointed out that the board as a collegial body has to act on NEA-BOA Resolution No. 2021-71 that appointed Rafael as the new general manager amidst the existence of an earlier BENECO board resolution No. 2020-090 that installed Engr. Melchor S. Licoben as the electric cooperative’s general manager which was passed way back on April 21, 2020.

The Rafael camp tried to allegedly use operatives of law enforcement agencies such as the Cordillera office of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-CAR) and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) to force their way into the headquarters but the BENECO board opted to invite them for a dialogue that ended in a deadlock.

Earlier, the House committee on energy ordered the NEA-BOA to observe a status quo in the BENECO leadership while issues on the over reach of the NEA-BOA powers in the appointment of general managers are being tackled in the committee level but the NEA-BOA insisted in enforcing the questionable resolution amidst the warning issued by the NEA legal services department that they will be on the bane of being cited for contempt and face possible jail term.

Legal experts described the acts of the NEA-BOA in enforcing the questionable resolution and the acts of the Rafael camp in insisting to assume office as contemptuous and there is a possibility that they will be cited for concept by the House committee on energy for their defiance of a lawful order from Congress.

Further, the NEA-BOA and the Rafael camp should have given Congress the utmost respect when it issued the status quo order being a co-equal branch but it seems that their action will surely lead to their being cited for contempt and that they will stand to face arrest once the committee will decide on the matter anytime.

Member-consumer-owners called on concerned parties to set aside their own personal interests on the issue and give utmost respect to what the House committee on energy had handed down to prevent further confusion that will be created by the disagreements created by the enforcement of the questionable NEA-BOA resolution which from the start was questioned as one of the applicants did not meet the prescribed qualifications for the said position aside from the fact that the same applicant was not recommended for appointment by the University of the Philippines College of Psychology which administered their intelligence quotient, emotional quotient and essay examination.

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