BAGUIO CITY – Local leaders and member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to step in in the ongoing brewing leadership impasse in one of the country’s top performing electric cooperatives by heeding their clamor to set aside the questionable resolution of the National Electrification Administration (NEA-BOA) that insisted in the appointment of an unqualified and not recommended applicant for the position of general manager and instead respect the decision of the Board of Directors to install a competent and qualified personality to the said coveted post.
The call was made by congressmen, mayors, governors, councilors, barangay officials and MCOs following the successful People Power that was done to retake BENECO’s main headquarters from the hands of NEA Project Supervisor lawyer Omar Mayo and NEA-BOA appointed general manager lawyer Ana Marie Rafael Wednesday morning.
More importantly, the leaders and consumers were one in appealing to the Office of the President to already deal with the matter with a sense of urgency to avoid the situation from being blown out of proportion that will reflect on the government’s image in effectively and efficiently handling such disputes.
MCOs and local leaders also denounced the commando-type takeover initiated by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in aiding Mayo and Rafael to takeover the main headquarters in the guise of serving the preventive suspension order of certain BENECO officials at around 3 am of October 18, 2021 that paralyzed the cooperative’s operations for 3 days.
Baguio Rep. Mark Go, Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Benguet chapter president and Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan, La Trinidad Mayor Romeo K. Salda voiced out their condemnation to the forcible takeover of BENECO’s main headquarters where law enforcers barged into the offices and allegedly bastardized important equipment of the cooperative such as its control room that paralyzed its operations and displaced its workers from discharging their assigned duties and responsibilities.
Magalong pointed out that the present BENECO management under the able leadership of Engr. Melchor S. Licoben has no integrity issues and that the cooperative had been well managed through the years that is why he is questioning why the NEA-BOA insists on putting in place an inexperienced and unqualified applicant to the position of general manager which will surely be detrimental to its efficient delivery of quality services and the enjoyment of cheap power by the MCOs.
For his part, Diclas asserted the need for the NEA-BOA to respect the earlier decision of the Board of Directors in installing Licoben as its general manager way back on April 21, 2020 by virtue of Resolution No. 2020-90 and that because there is already a case filed before the Court of Appeals (CA), there should be a status quo that should be observed in the cooperative with Licoben at the helm until the issue shall have been resolved with finality.
Congressman Yap disclosed that he and other lawmakers will be initiating talks involving the concerned parties to find ways on how to put order on the controversy so that the sustained efficient operation of the cooperative will be ensured without disrupting its services and the offering of cheap power to the MCOs.
He emphasized that despite the ongoing controversy in the BENECO leadership, its services should not be compromised and jeopardized and that what he supports is the deserving and competent general manager because the operations of the cooperative involve technical knowledge and skills.
On the other hand, Palangdan denounced the commando-type and forcible takeover of the cooperative’s main headquarters by the PNP and the Mayo and Rafael camp, saying that such unethical and unprofessional acts of the two educated lawyers should be the subject of the appropriate legal action by the concerned parties to teach them their lessons in life.
He claimed that BENECO consumers have already spoken on who deserves to be the general manager by virtue of Resolution No. 2020-90, thus, the NEA-BOA decision in insisting to appoint Rafael to the same position is misplaced and will not bind the cooperative as there is no longer any position to be open and applied for.
What happened in the case of Rafael is that the Office of the President simply endorsed to the NEA her intent to apply for the position of general manager dated June 30, 2020 which was nearly 3 months since the Board of Directors appointed Licoben to the position based on the option provided under NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035.
The local leaders and MCOs believe that the Office of the President should already act on the matter and not allow the situation to further escalate because there might be untoward incidents that might transpire that will lead to violence that might disrupt the cooperative’s operations.
MCOs vowed to be vigilant on whatever future actions that will be undertaken by the Rafael camp to retaliate to avoid the occurrence of unnecessary incidents that might compromise the peace and order situation in the city. By HENT