BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO), one of the well-established electric cooperatives in the country, is facing a leadership crisis following the endorsement made by the Board of Administrators (BOA) of the National electrification Administration (NEA) to a purported Palace aide to be the next general manager instead of a supposed veteran in the country’s power distribution industry.
In a joint statement issued by the BENECO management and employees union, the concerned power industry workers stated that they had no malice in expressing their honest belief on how the BOA processed the recruitment of the applicants for the BENECO general manager position or neither they did they categorically claim that the selection was rigged nor was tainted by fraud.
BENECO insisted that the BOA grossly violated its recruitment rules based on the factual antecedents of the situation.
Necessarily, BENECO claimed that the qualifications of the applicants, pursuant to NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 dated October 24, 2017, will look into the technical competencies needed by the position of a general manager of an electric cooperative and if at all that the skills of Atty. Marie Rafael, a neophyte in the country’s power industry, was mentioned, the same became inevitable since applications for any position are judged in terms of skills and competencies one could bring into a desired position and that the said context was never meant to diminish or demean her.
The management and employees union pointed out that their gripes center on the BOA that, as of date, has already issued a resolution endorsing Rafael’s application and that its decision to endorse a lone applicant based solely on the results of the final interview is highly questionable contrary to its supposed job of pre-qualifying, screening and interviewing the applicants for the said position, If both applicants are qualified, the BOA must endorse the 2 applicants to the BENECO Board of Directors from whom the same could exercise their expressed right to choose the general manager.
Incidentally, BOA Resolution No. 2021-47 admitted that both Atty. Rafael and incumbent BENECO officer-in-charge Engr. Melchor S. Licoben are qualified and the most that it could have done is the ministerial function to endorse the 2 applicants to the BENECO board.
Further, BENECO stipulated that the aforesaid resolution is fatally defective since it did not only deprive the BENECO board its inherent right to choose the general manager by endorsing only one applicant, it unlawfully, unwittingly or wittingly compromised the jurisdiction of the board to choose, pointing out that the BOA simply used the scores in the final interview of the applicants as its basis in endorsing only one applicant, thus, the same is considered as an alleged injustice and ignorance of the rules.
According to them, there is nothing in NEA Memorandum 2017-035 that explicitly and categorically allows the BOA to endorse only one applicant based on the results of the final interview by the Boa.
BENECO emphasized that the daily functions of the general manager of an electric cooperative is not a daily dose of interviews but the technical mien that is needed to shepherd the cooperative’s operations and that the BOA decision simply ignored the technical competency required under the earlier memorandum since the resolution unfairly placed premium on the result of the final interview.
BENECO asserted that there was no vacancy of the position of general manager in the first place since the BENECO board already chose the second option of selecting the general manager from the ranks of the department managers as per provisions of NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 and that the interim departure from being an officer-in-charge applies when the vacancy was published and opened to applicants.
Earlier, the BENECO board passed Resolution No. 2020-90 dated April 21, 2020 naming already Engr. Licoben as the general manager and Resolution No. 2020-190 dated August 23, 2020 stating that Engr. Licoben need not vacate his position in the interim and that the NEA was furnished copies of the said resolution but the agency did not issue any standing order to vacate his post as an officer-in-charge.
BENECO explained that what the management and the employees could not understand is the BOA’s decision to ignore the fact that the position of assistant general manager was purposely created as part of a succession plan to the position and Engr. Licoben rightfully occupied the said position prior to his being named as the officer-in-charge. This was with the clear imprimatur of the NEA and likewise, the overwhelming support of local governments and member-consumer-owners, which were all part of the dossier of Engr. Licoben, met a blind eye from the BOA which tweaked its own rules and denied him his right and qualification as an applicant.
“We are quite surprise to learn why Atty. Rafael had a copy of the BOA resolution when NEA Memorandum 2017-035 clearly states that the list of applicants who passed the NEA board final interview, with necessary information and results of the background investigation, shall then be transmitted to the electric cooperative board for perusal and selection. As of date, BENECO has yet to receive its official copy of the transmittal from NEA,” the statement stressed.
In her earlier statement, Rafael accused some BENECO officers of allegedly caused the publication of letters addressed to the BOA misleading BENECO employees, local governments and the public insinuating that the selection process for the position of general manager was allegedly rigged and railroaded because she had a strong political backup in the national government being an official of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and that such act is not at all fair.
She stipulated that she does not drag other people to join in and allow things to go haywire for personal interest and called on people to stop the bickering and get back to work because they reportedly owe it to the member-consumer-owners and paying consumers of the electric cooperative.
For now, since the questioned BOA resolution has been released, she will respect the authority of the NEA and subject herself to the wisdom of the BENECO board that is to confirm or reject the resolution. By HENT