BAGUIO CITY – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian underscored that the withdrawal of multi-million funds from the accounts of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) by the camp of a purported general manager is illegal which warrants the filing of appropriate cases against those financial institutions and the individuals responsible in the said unauthorized withdrawals.
Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, claimed that the unauthorized withdrawal of more than P60 million from a number of bank accounts of Beneco in several financial institutions over the past several months is grossly in violation of the status quo order handed down by the House and Senate committees where said actions are considered to be contemptuous by those responsible for such withdrawals.
Earlier, Beneco member-consumer-owners (MCOs) brought to the attention of the senator the unauthorized withdrawal of the funds of the electric cooperative which was earmarked for the payment of the contractors of the government’s Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) in the different far flung communities of Benguet which is within the electric cooperative’s franchise area and other funds from other accounts in some banks which might affect the operations of the power distribution utility in the future.
The Senator vowed to look into the said controversy through the Senate committee on energy so that appropriate charges will be pursued against those responsible for such an illegal act that tends to impact on the overall image of Beneco as one of the top performing electric cooperatives so that there will be a reason to make it ailing and allow the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to takeover its operation and allow the unqualified people to takeover the management of the same.
According to him, NEA and its Board of Administrators (BOA) should stop harassing Beneco and the different electric cooperatives in the country so that the same will be able to effectively and efficiently perform their assigned duties and responsibilities to pursue the government’s rural electrification program and provide people with cheap and quality power.
Further, Senator Gatchalian reminded the NEA that its powers are confined in looking into the welfare of ailing electric cooperatives where it can appoint their general manager while NEA has no business interfering with their affairs because the appointment of their general managers are vested on their board of Directors.
He stipulated that the Senate committee on energy will continue to look into the abuses of NEA and its Board of Administrators to prevent the same from unduly interfering with the affairs of top performing electric cooperatives like Beneco to prevent the occurrence of unnecessary incidents that might compromise the operations of the power distribution companies which in the first place, NEA has no authority to do so.
Gatchalian appealed to Beneco MCOs to continue to be vigilant for them to be able to protect Beneco from the harassment being employed by NEA and its appointees and to prevent one of the country’s top performing electric cooperatives from being taken over by people that might comprise its status and give reason for the agency to takeover the same that will be detrimental in its operations in the future.