Recognizing the threat posed by the Omicron variant, the board of directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) has decided to cancel the January 29, 2022 special membership assembly and reset it to Feb. 12, 2022.
The seven-member board headed by lawyer Esteban Somngi said the board has seriously considered the surge in the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the city. “We are one in ensuring the health and safety of our member consumer owners (MCOs),” said an advisory signed by Somngi in behalf of the electric cooperative.
The deferment also considered the letter of the city mayor’s office advising BENECO to defer the general assembly following the recommendation of the health services office that the physical assembly be suspended in the meantime.
The resetting came amid efforts of the board’s rival camp in the general manager row in going around and airing over radio to discourage the MCOs not to pay their share capital to BENECO.
“The other parlor is misleading and confusing the MCOs. The MCOs already voted during the June, 2019 annual general membership assembly (AGMA) for BENECO to register with the CDA and convert as a stock cooperative,” Somngi said.
“The required minimum subscription of five shares or P500 were also overwhelmingly approved during the Oct. 2, 2020 AGMA,” he said.
Lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael, the NEA-appointed GM, earlier issued an advisory directing MCOs not to pay the P500. “BENECO is not requiring payment of the capital share contribution from MCOs as it would be unfair for consumer to be expecting patronage refund when the funds could not be liquidated later by those who have collected the same,” Rafael said.
Melchor Licoben, the board appointed GM who continues to direct BENECO’s daily operations, assailed Rafael’s advisory, saying “no person, not even any GM, can revoke the decision of the general assembly to collect share capital.”
Licoben said the Feb. 12 special meeting will serve as an opportunity to explain the legality and purpose of the share capital. “We dismiss any insinuation by the other parlor that the share capital will be misused and cannot be liquidated,” he said.
The board directors also took exception to a Jan. 24, 2022 letter sent by Marieta Hwang, CDA regional director, to the electric cooperative that said the assembly shall be put on hold unless cleared by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) or until the suspension of the directors is lifted.
“With all due respect, the CDA’s referral to the suspension order is not proper since we have filed a motion for reconsideration,” Somngi said.
The board president said the CDA must observe independence and treat the NEA issue separate and apart from the decision of the electric cooperative to hold the special meeting.