House inquiry on grave abuse of authority sought

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The Power Bloc of the House of Representatives – Presley C. De Jesus, Sergio C. Dagooc, Godofredo N. Guya, and Adriano E. Ebcas – filed yesterday House Resolution 1776 urging the House Committee on Energy to conduct an inquiry on an alleged overreach of the National Electrification Administration on the screening, selection, and appointments of general managers of electric cooperatives.

According to House Resolution 1776, a recent NEA-BOA Resolution approved the endorsement of a candidate with a higher score from two applicants who both achieved passing rate in both the pre-screening and final interview stages. Such act gave the endorsed candidate unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference over the other candidate, current OIC GM Engr. Melchor Licoben, who is equally qualified to be a general manager of the EC.

“The power granted to the NEA Board of Administrators by law and to its own issuances is limited only to a mere screening of the applicants for GMs of ECs and to validate if said officials possess all the qualifications required by law and none of the disqualifications, based on established guidelines,” the Power Bloc representatives emphasized in HR 1776.The solons added that the “NEA Board of Administrators have absolutely no power to select and appoint the GM or the power to designate a “probable appointee” for the position of General Manager of BENECO.”

Meanwhile, the BENECO Board of Directors, on their part, has also decided not to act positively on the endorsement of NEA during their special session yesterday. Voting 6-4, BENECO’s Board of Directors rejected the proposal and reiterated its previous resolution endorsing its current OIC Engr. Melchor Licoben as its General Manager. Atty. Janeene Depay-Colingan said that the EC has followed the right process from the very start.

“Let it be known: PHILRECA, BENECO management and employee, BENECO MCOs, and our One EC-MCO Movement are not meddling with the mandate of NEA. We are calling out the decision that did not go through the proper procedure to be rectified! We thank BENECO for standing up for what is right,” said Colingan. “Despite the provisions of the law giving independence to the Electric Cooperatives to select and appoint its own general manager, the Board of Administrators of NEA-BOA selected one candidate and approved a resolution endorsing only one of the two qualified candidates for the position of General Manager of BENECO,” added Colingan.

Mr. Presley C. De Jesus, President of PHILRECA, said that “the reason the entire 121 electric cooperatives are up in arms is because the Board of Administrators of the National Electrification Administration violated and breached the very clear processes in hiring and appointing general managers that they themselves approved.”

“The Board of Administrators should not intervene in the affairs and mandate of the EC’s Board of Directors. The BOA committed grave abuse of discretion because the NEA Board of Administrators has no power – neither by virtue of RA 10531 nor by any existing regulatory measures – to choose which of the qualified applicants they should endorse to the EC Board of Directors based on any arbitrary preference of the Board of Administrators,” De Jesus emphasized.

It can be remembered that in a joint letter by PHILRECA and NAGMEC, they also urged the Board of Administrators to “rectify its error and set aside RB Resolution No. 2021-47 to spare itself from a deluge of serious legal actions and unprecedented rant not just from BENECO’s member-consumer-owners but from the entire EC sector who have the same sentiment on this issue.”

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