House body stops enforcement of NEA-BOA decision

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The House Committee on energy ordered the National Electrification Administration–Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) to respect the status quo in the position of general manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) and for the same to refrain from enforcing its questionable decision for the appointment of an unqualified and not recommended applicant to the said post.

Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA) Party-list Repo. Presley de Jesus, who is also the vice chairperson of the House Committee on energy, stated that based on the outcome of the 3-hour public hearing called for the purpose of threshing out the gaps that could result to an impasse in the BENECO leadership, there was a blatant design of the NEA-BOA members to deliberately ignore the prescribed processes in the selection of the general manager aggravated by their negligence in exercising their supposed duties and responsibilities.

He pointed out that the decision of the NEA-BOA to stand firm on its already questionable act to enforce an unqualified and not recommended applicant to the position of BENECO general manager will surely compromise the good status of the electric cooperative which was able to maintain its reputation as one of the top performing electric cooperatives in the country.

No less than Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza, alternate chairperson of the NEA-BOA, admitted under oath that one of the applicants for BENECO general manager did not meet the prescribed educational background and the required 5-year experience in the management of a successful electric cooperative or a related business enterprise, although the said applicant was able to garner a higher score in the final interview.

De Jesus claimed that the overreach displayed by the NEA-BOA in insisting on the appointment of an unqualified and not recommended applicant will surely serve as a bad precedent for other electric cooperatives that are in a similar situation with BENECO, thus, such malpractice on the part of the NEA-BOA should be stopped to avoid future problems that may arise when there will be vacancies in the position of general manager of other electric cooperatives.

The House Committee compelled the NEA-BOA to submit to the committee secretariat for perusal the results of the examinations of the two applicants and the assessment that was done by the University of the Philippines College of Psychology on them to ascertain who is really telling the truth on the present controversy.

De Jesus asserted that lawmakers will not allow the NEA-BOA to interfere in the affairs of electric cooperatives as such undue interventions will definitely have a serious negative impact on gains in the power distribution industry which will have a domino effect on the people in terms of the reliability of the system and the fixing of the power rates.

Earlier, BENECO labor union officers questioned the NEA-BOA for insisting the appointment of an unqualified and not recommended applicant to the position of BENECO general manager admits the existence of a resolution of the Board of Directors appointing Engr. Melchor S. Licoben as BENECO general manager which was approved way back on April 21, 2020 and was reiterated in a number of resolutions submitted to the NEA which were never acted upon by the regulating agency. By HENT

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