February 1, 2023

The National Electrification Administration has ordered the 11 Benguet Electric Cooperative board of directors (BODs) it removed from office to refund the disallowed funds they have received from Beneco.
The NEA also barred the 11 Beneco BODs from being reinstated or employed and from running for any position in any electric cooperative for their repeated defiance to NEA guidelines.
The orders were contained in a decision relative to the case filed against the BODs and other key officials of Beneco as a result of the adverse audit findings conducted on the electric cooperative from 2018 to 2020.
Copies of the ruling were handed to journalists when NEA took over Beneco’s operations on Jan. 11.
The NEA found directors Rocky Aliping, Esteban Somngi, Enrique Moresto, Jonathan Obar, Robert Valentin, Josephine Tuling, Luke Gomeyac, Peter Busaing, Jefferd Acop, Mike Maspil, and James Aclopen liable for willful violation of NEA guidelines, particularly on the grant of benefits, allowances, and incentives to officials and employees of electric cooperatives.
In the order, the NEA directed the BODs to return to Beneco P2,971,350 representing the third board meeting per diem; P635,000 representing the special board meeting per diem; and P33,000 representing the committee meeting per diem they received.
The BODs were also ordered to return P788,000 representing the additional allowance for information, education, and communication; P4,027,235 gasoline allowance; P285,000 per diem claimed despite non-attendance to board meeting; P1,112,500 as 13th month pay; and P110,000 insurance allowance.
In addition, the NEA ordered the individual BODs to refund the disallowed amounts they received.
Somngi was ordered to refund P620,620.34; Aclopen, P283,757.81; Aliping, P1,621,391.77; Gomeyac, P281,332.38; Busaing, P276,382.39; Maspil, P236,824.19; Acop, P257,368.63; Tuling, P251,293.33; Valentin, P178,670.78; Moresto, P183,724.16; and Obar, P257,963.31.
Ordered to liquidate their advances are Aliping amounting to P630,000; Somngi, P407,571.73; and Gomeyac, P336,013.93.
The amounts ordered refunded by the BODs are in addition to the amounts they were also asked to return in a NEA decision handed in 2021. A copy of the 2021 NEA ruling was not immediately available.
Aside from the BOD, the NEA audit also found General Manager Melchor Licoben, then the assistant manager; then Internal Audit Manager Brenda Carling; and then Non-Network Services Department Officer-in-Charge Rocky Pallogan administratively liable for non-compliance with NEA guidelines in relation to the grant of allowances and incentives.
The three officials were meted with a 45-day suspension. Pallogan and Carling have since retired from Beneco before the release of the NEA order.
The other lapses committed by the BOD and management officials are Beneco’s investment of its P160 million to the Rural Electrification and Financing Corporation and the amendment of the terms of payment with a supplier of materials, labor and handling of electrification projects for 79 sitios worth more than P87M, both without NEA’s approval and the procurement of steel poles that were higher than the NEA price index.
To replace the dismissed BODs, the NEA installed an interim BOD to oversee the operations of Beneco, who were sworn into office by Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda, the designated Beneco project supervisor, on Jan. 11.
Those who took their oath are Steve Cating, representing the business sector; Atty. George Dumawing for the consumer/professional sector; Rodolfo de Guia for the religious sector; Elma Donaal for the academe; and Joaquin Depalog, Jr. for the agriculture sector.
Almeda said the interim BOD will work, among functions, to work on the election of regular members of Beneco BOD. – Jane B. Cadalig