NEA board urged to exercise wise judgement

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BAGUIO CITY – Representatives of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) Board of Directors and employees are seeking the wise judgement of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) Board of Administrators (BOA) on who should it endorse to the BENECO board to be the next general manager of the electric cooperative.

In her earlier letter dated January 11, 2021, lawyer Vicar Laureen G. Franco, NEA Deputy Administrator for Electric Cooperative Management Services, informed the BENECO board that there are two applicants currently being evaluated for the position, one of which is Engr. Melchor S. Licoben, the current officer-in-charge.

In their letter dated April 26, 2021 addressed to the NEA BOA, the BENECO representatives stated they are confident that the selection process has strictly abided by the provisions of NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 dated October 24, 2017 and NEA Memorandum No. 2018-004 dated January 17, 2018.

The BENECO officials pointed out that one need not emphasize that under NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035, the qualifications of the general manager include trainings and seminars in any or all on the areas of electric cooperative principles supervision and or management, strategic planning or organization and operation of business enterprises, values enhancement and leadership trainings, resource utilization, development and management, corporate governance, energy management and technology management.

Further, the same memorandum clearly qualified that the incoming general manager must have at least 5 years’ experience with proven track record in the effective management of a successful utility-related business enterprise, must have held two or more senior management positions involving business leadership or managerial functions, must have no derogatory or adverse administrative records in any of his or her previous employments.

The BENECO representatives underscored they have nothing against the other applicant but they are in a quandary on how could she have possessed the foregoing qualifications which are said to be mandatory and since BENECO is a distribution utility, there must be a premium on the readiness of the applicant to manage an electric cooperative in terms of work experience and trainings attended.

The letter reiterated the premises of NEA Memorandum 2017-035 that clearly stipulated that the successful operation of any electric cooperative as a service enterprise depends to a  substantial degree, upon the effectiveness of its general manager and it is therefore essential that a competent, dedicated person or high integrity individual be selected for the said position.

The rationale of the same order clearly explained that to ensure the able compliance and successful response by the electric cooperatives to all the new challenges, a general manager must be highly qualified, competent and dedicated to spearhead all efforts towards the attainment of the targeted results.

According to them, the two applicants for BENECO general manager may both possess dedication and high integrity but competence is another thing as the same means knowhow, skills and experience and for sure, Engr. Licoben is above par and that he is more highly qualified, more competent and more dedicated given his more than 30 years of work with BENECO and given the fact that he has risen from the ranks.

The BENECO asserted that the qualifications required by the NEA memo are mandatory and since it is a distribution utility, there must be a premium on the readiness of the applicant to manage an electric cooperative in terms of work experience and trainings attended.

“We are curious to know how Assistant Secretary Anna Marie Rafael-Banaag could have hurdled these qualifications. The qualifications are a pass or fail category and for sure, she would have gotten less points on this aspect without any intent to diminish her ability. We are interested to know the points gathered by both applicants and how the work experience and qualifications were factored into the selection. We also plead before the BOA to consider Engr. Licoben was the assistant general manager during the incumbency of the late general manager Gerardo P. Verzosa, the position of an assistant general manager was created as part of the succession plan in which no other electric cooperative employee deserve the same other than Engr. Licoben, the letter stated.

The BENECO representatives asserted that attention must also be given to the fact that Engr. Licoben has the support of almost all the stakeholders within its franchise area as evidenced by the numerous resolutions of support for his appointment as the next general manager.

The letter emphasized that they need not to recall that the BENECO board itself already passed a resolution expressing its decision for Engr. Licoben to be appointed as general manager of the electric cooperative as the selection of the general manager under NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 provides two options, recruit through publication, and for the board to choose from the department managers and that the directors made a resounding choice when it selected to use the second option and soundly endorse Engr. Licoben to be directly appointed as the general manager.

The concerned representatives pointed out that the same could have spared NEA thee time spent for recruiting a new general manager since it is the board itself that made clear of its decision for Engr. Licoben to take the helm of the electric cooperative.

The BENECO board argued that the pandemic has severely impacted on the operations of the electric cooperative and that a well-rounded leadership is the key to combat the hurdles of these times, thus, the electric cooperative needs a general manager that could stir the cooperative to effectively accomplish its business continuity plan.

“We repose in the BOA an unprejudiced discernment in the exercise of its discretion,” the letter signed by concerned board of Directors and representatives of employees of the electric cooperative stipulated. By HENT

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