The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) task force and interim Board of Directors recently appointed Assistant General Manager Engr. Melchor S. Licoben as the electric cooperative’s full-pledged General Manager following a recommendation from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for the said post.
“There was no other candidate, he was the number one choice as recommended by the NEA,” Steve Cating, Interim BOD chairperson said speaking for the task force composed of representatives from various sectors in Baguio City and Benguet province.
There was a very thorough vetting process conducted by the NEA. They did testing, background checks, and they also did other clearances before actually releasing the names of the candidate who passed all of these testings. Engr. Licoben, of course, was the highest point-getter in all of this. There was really no question as to his appointment, Cating explained.
Heart emojis and congratulations poured in the employees chat group when Acting General Manager Atty. Delmar O. Cariño announced the momentous development in the long-standing tumultuous journey of the cooperative’s general manager following the retirement of the late Gerardo P. Verzosa.
“Congratulations Engr. Melchor S. Licoben for his official appointment as GM of the Benguet Electric Cooperative going forward. We are very proud to appoint him, and there is no question of his competence as a manager and as a resource person for BENECO. We look forward to growing BENECO for the next 50 years as we renew our franchise,” Cating added.
It can be recalled that BENECO’s workforce and former members of the BOD have unanimously given their support for Licoben since 2020.
This endorsement of employees were further bolstered by all the local government units of Baguio city and Benguet, as well as the member-consumer-owners (MCOs) who have shown their unshakeable support.
NEA Administrator Antonio Almeda promised the appointment of the GM during the October 6 BENECO Employees Awarding and 50th Anniversary program as one of the guests of honor.
“We are very blessed that our prayers were granted. The struggle was all worth it. We learned important lessons, and all the hardships we have gone through further strengthened the bond and unity of all employees,” Jefferd Monang said. Monang is the BENECO Labor Union president.
In a statement, Licoben expressed his sincerest gratitude to everyone for the journey of the BENECO general manager.
“I could not have done this without the support and cooperation of everyone. The resiliency and teamwork displayed by all despite the challenges did not diminish our commitment to provide quality service to all our stakeholders,” GM Licoben stressed.
He also expressed his gratitude to Engr. Ramel B. Rifani, Engr. Artemio M. Bacoco and Atty. Delma O. Carin֮o for leading the teams while BENECO was transitioning to normalcy.
The BENECO official lauded Jefferd Monang for his all-around leadership and having been the bridge between the member-consumer-owners (MCOs).
Under existing rules and regulations, the NEA is given 10 days to confirm the appointment that was issued by the Board of Directors for Licoben to become the full-fledged general manager.
In a separate statement, the people and officialdom of Baguio City extended their warmest greetings and congratulations to Licoben who was recently appointed as the full-fledged general manager of the BENECO, one of the country’s top performing electric cooperatives.
The city government stated that the appointment of GM Licoben puts an end to the leadership impasse that challenged BENECO these past years.
The city said that it is its verdant desire that BENECO bounces back fully from temporary setback wrought by the crisis and retains its status as a power firm extraordinaire.
City officials claimed that they have and will continue to believe in the ability of GM Licoben to lead BENECO to greater heights as shown during the failed attempts to forcibly takeover the electric cooperative’s leadership in the past.
The city government also commended the employees and member-consumer-owners who stood by BENECO in good and bad times because they fought for a rightful leader in GM Licoben.
The city rallied the consumers to be behind the legitimate BENECO leadership and allow the wounds of the past to naturally heal. Moreover, the city urged the people to work for the interest of the electric cooperative and support the newly appointed general manager to allow BENECO to achieve its purpose in providing cheap and reliable power and realize the energization of remote villages within its franchise area.
In 2020, the former members of the Board of Directors unanimously approved Resolution No. 090, series of 2020 that appointed Engr. Licoben as the general manager vice Verzosa who retired from service effective May 1, 2020 due to health reasons.
Instead of confirming the said action of the board pursuant to established rules and regulations, the NEA – Board of Administrators opened the application for BENECO general manager. Ironically, the former members of the NEA-BOA approved a resolution appointing Atty. Ana Marie Paz Rafael as BENECO General manager sometime in May 2021 that started the leadership impasse in the electric cooperative.
In the early morning of October 18, 2021, heavily armed personnel of the Philippine National Police escorted the former NEA Project Supervisor and swooped into the BENECO headquarters to forcibly takeover the operation of the electric cooperative that resulted to a temporary halt in its regular operations.
On October 20, 2021, thousands of member-consumer-owners marched from Session Road up to the BENECO headquarters and peacefully re-installed the officials and employees that brought back the cooperative’s operations in the light of the leadership crisis that besotted it for a number of months.
On January 12, 2023, the NEA under a new leadership ordered the termination of the appointment of Atty. Rafael for her failure to effectively manage the cooperative that caused the downgrading of its status from Class AAA to Class C.
The NEA also ordered the dismissal of the members of the Board of Directors for various charges that paved the way for the designation of the members of the Task Force BENECO that acted as the interim board to oversee its operation and management of the electric cooperative.
The hiring of BENECO general manager was again reopened where there were three applicants, including Engr. Licoben, but one of them was disqualified while the other applicant opted to waive his right in favor of Licoben. By Dexter A. See with reports from Laarni Sibayan-Ilagan