Verzosa: The man behind the energization of Baguio, Benguet

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet– Baguio City and Benguet which are under the franchise area of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) had problems on energization despite playing host to the Ambuklao Dam in Bokod and the Binga Dam in Itogon aside from internal problems that caused the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to classify the same as an ‘ailing’  rural electric cooperative.

In June 1988, the NEA designated Gerardo P. Verzosa as a project manager of BENECO to oversee the operations of the electric cooperative which was suffering from leadership crisis at that time aggravated by the skyrocketing systems loss that went as high as more than 30 percent aside from poor service to the consumers.

Subsequently, Verzosa was appointed as a full pledged general manager in April 1991 and over the past three decades of his stewardship of the cooperative, he was able to selflessly impart his unquestionable wisdom, knowledge and skills to stir BENECO into one of the top performing electric cooperatives in the country from its former squalid and miserable state that was compounded by the heavy impact of the July 16, 1990 killer earthquake that nearly wiped out the BENECO’s power distribution infrastructure.

In his 3 decades of service to BENECO, Verzosa was able to make BENECO charge the lowest power rates among the 121 electric cooperatives and private distribution utilities in the country for the past 3 years; aggressively implemented the government’s rural electrification program through the Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) that paved the way for the 100 percent energization of Baguio’s 128 barangays and Benguet’s 140 barangays; worked out the put up of the 3-megawatt Man-asoc minihydro power plant in Buguias; whose commercial operation is expected to start next year; forging of an agreement with the indigenous peoples of Kabayan for a renewable energy development project anchored on a partnership with the IPs; sourcing of grants for the proposed 1-megawatt solar power project under the World Bank and Department of Energy subsidy program; established a partnership with DICT and Transco for the provision of internet services to government and educational institutions with BENECO being the first electric cooperative in the country whose fiber optic lines were tapped for such endeavor; among others that sustained its identity as a Class AAA cooperative.

Despite the remaining unserved period prior to his formal retirement, Verzosa tendered his early retirement effective April 30, 2020 due to his medical condition.

Last September 16, 2020, Gerry as popularly known among his friends and relative joined his Creator at the age of 64.

Messages of condolences immediately flooded the social media as every sector and individual that Verzosa was able to touch started to voice out their deepest sympathy to the loss of a valued friend, mentor, leader, a good father to his family, a brother an adviser.

However, his family stated that it is with a heavy heart and great sadness that they announce the untimely demise of Verzosa and that they want that he be remembered for all the lives that he was touched and all the good that he has done.

The family appreciated everyone who wants to extend their comfort and that they are asking for prayers, respect and privacy at this time.

Verzosa’s remains was cremated and that his ashes were brought home for the private wake of the members of his family before being buried on September 24, 2020.

Former Baguio City Rep. and Mayor Bernardo M. Vergara claimed that the sudden demise of Verzosa is a great loss to the city as he was a hardworker and an action man during his incumbency as BENECO general manager.

He was a visionary person as he projected the expansion of BENECO, the improvement of its facilities and resources including its modernized building along South Drive.

Vergara, who was also Verzosa’s godfather during his wedding in 1992, stated that he was proud to have worked with him for 18 years.

On the other hand, former Mayor and Rep. Mauricio G. Domogan said that it is unfortunate that a long time trusted and valued friend died with a problematic cause of death right in the midst of a pandemic.

“In behalf of my family, I extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his bereaved family. Rest in peace GM,” Domogan stressed.

For his part, BENECO board president Atty. Esteban Somngi claimed that in his 6 years in the electric cooperative, he knew GM Gerry to be very considerate, fair in rendering judgements but tough and that his one of a kind management skills was able to convert BENECO from an ailing cooperative to one of the top performing cooperatives in the country to date.

“Rural electrification is in Verzosa’s fingertips that makes him one among the highly respected personalities in the country’s power industry. National and local leaders and allied electric cooperative organizations are always seeking his pieces of advice on how to pursue their desired programs and that his exemplary performance as a general manager will always be remembered by the present and future generations,”  Atty. Somngi stressed.

BENECO General Manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben, who was part of the team that was organized by GM Verzosa that was instrumental in elevating BENECO to greater heights, admitted that it was not only BENECO that lost a highly respected personality but the country’s power industry as a whole.

Licoben said that the enormous messages of sympathy and condolences that BENECO and his family received over the past several days is a testament on the network that he was able to establish and the influence that he was able to impart to various experts in the power industry during his 3 decades of dedicated and sincere service to the cooperative.

Licoben asserted that his passion in ventilating his thoughts on the issues and concerns of the power industry that need appropriate action by the regulators is one of the important aspects of his strong personality that allowed him to gain the respect of experts from the country’s power industry players. By HENT