NEA official, ex-Palace aide charged anew

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BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) recently charged an official of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) a former Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), John Does and Jane Does for alleged theft, malicious mischief, grave coercion, carnapping and other appropriate charges in relation to the forcible takeover of its main headquarters in the wee hours of October 18, 2021.

In his 16-page affidavit complaint filed before the city prosecutor’s office, BENECO general manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben accused NEA Project Supervisor lawyer Omar Mayo and former PCOO Assistant Secretary Lawyer Ana Marie Rafael for the aforesaid crimes after they allegedly orchestrated the forcible takeover of the electric cooperative’s main headquarters along South Drive on October 18-20, 2021.

Further, he claimed that he also included John Does and Jane Does whose identities are not yet known but with the undertaking that should they later be identified in the course of the proceedings, he will cause the amendment of the complaint or notify the prosecutor’s office for appropriate action.

Earlier, the BENECO Board of Directors authorized Engr. Licoben to institute the filing of the complaint pursuant to Resolution No. 2021-202 dated November 3, 2021.

Licoben cited that the respondents have wanted to remove him as the duly appointed general manager as they have been asserting, though in a contradictory manner, that Rafael was duly appointed by the National Electrification Administration – Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) as the general manager and Mayo was the appointed Project Supervisor and that their attempts to continue the takeover of BENECO anytime have been castigated by the public because even before the actual takeover last October 18, 2021, there has been a build up of their sinister motives.

At around 2:45 am of October 18, 2021, guards stationed in BENECO South Drive were surprised when around 5 armed persons, who introduced themselves as members of the Police Regional Office arrived and immediately parked a police service vehicle at the entrance of the office and barricaded it.

He narrated that the guards on duty readily identified Mayo as present with the armed persons.

At around 2:49 am on the same day, Licoben claimed that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the entry of the second floor lobby caught on video Mayo and several armed persons clearing the chairs blocking the Dumol hall terrace entrance.

Further, the main CCTV caught on video that several armed men took the recorder out of the MICS office followed by Mayo and his companion carrying a bolt cutter that appeared that they allegedly intended to cut any and all locks within the building.

Later on, he disclosed that Mayo was seen giving instructions to the armed persons and that he even allegedly hacked sawed several door locks for them to be able to enter BENECO rooms.

Licoben noted that Rafael arrived in BENECO at around 5:58 am and that she was present during the destruction of all locks and doors.

While Mayo and some armed men were figuring out how to open the left-wing door at around 8:50 am, Rafael was allegedly inside the same room watching Mayo’s actions.

According to him, apparently, Rafael did nothing to stop the takeover of BENECO’ s operations and it was clear that she was tolerating and even encouraging whatever was being done at the said moment.

During the 2-day BENECO siege, Licoben stipulated that Mayo, Rafael and their supporters physically appropriated to themselves the said office, hired their own tellers and security guards, engaged the services of non-employees for maintenance activities and manned the various service vehicles of the crew and linemen.

Moreover, the group also physically visited substations and tinkered with the systems.

Licoben revealed that Mayo and Rafael camped inside BENECO until October 20, 2021 when employees and consumers marched towards South Drive and peacefully protested and took back the facility.

As a result of the forcible takeover, Licoben accused Mayo, Rafael and their cohorts for allegedly taking items belonging to BENECO such as the 3 pieces of NVR-CCTV recorder, 12 GB storage worth P93,000; 4 pieces of Motorola handheld radios Xir P3688 worth P84,000; 2 pieces of Cignus X52 handheld radio worth P2,100; 1 Sony A6400 camera worth P70,000; LAN cables and connectors; VGA cable; and TP link Smart Poe switch.

The BENECO Network Services Department discovered that additional items were also missing that include ratchet with guy grip; climber set; pliers; bolt cutter; handline rope; skinning knife; adjustable wrench; 4 in 1 ratchet wrench; and hole digger.

It was also found out that the ignition key to one of the service vehicles used by field engineers was forcibly destroyed and that another truck suffered the destruction of its fuse panel.

He asserted that the BENECO takeover was done not in accordance with law or by court order, but by malice, caprice and greed and by effect, respondents have prevented employees stationed in BENECO at that time from performing their lawful duties.

It was also noticed that one BENECO vehicle was missing and that the said van was last seen in the possession of Rafael and a certain Mr. Allen who was driving it.

The said vehicle was last seen by several BENECO employees on October 19, 2021 at around 11 am at the North Sanitary Camp substation and around 12 noon at the Irisan substation and around 7 pm at the Lamut substation.

The last sighting recorded was on October 20, 2021 at around 6:30 am when it was reported where Mayo was on board and that the driver could not be recognized.

On October 25, 2021, the van was spotted parked on the Baguio Cathedral grounds and that BENECO was able to retrieve the same but the stickers and plate number were already removed. By HENT