December 10, 2022

The two camps battling for the general manager position of Benguet Electric Cooperative remain firm in claiming the legitimacy of their respective appointments.
Atty. Ana Maria Paz Rafael, former Presidential Communications Operations Office assistant secretary; and Engr. Melchor Licoben, former Beneco assistant and OIC general manager, are standing pat on their position they are the legitimate Beneco general manager.
Rafael is armed with her appointment by the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) on July 29, and which was effective immediately when it was served to Beneco on Aug. 27 with BOD president, Atty. Esteban Somngi, receiving the documents.
Licoben on the other hand, was appointed as full-fledged general manager in April 2020 by the Beneco BOD upon effectivity of the retirement of Engr. Gerardo Verzosa, and which it reiterated for NEA to confirm on May 2021.
Accompanied by her legal team and National Bureau of Investigation personnel, Rafael entered the Beneco headquarters at South Drive on Aug. 30, saying she was physically assuming the position amid assembled Beneco employees who protested her presence and assumption.
That day, she and lawyers led by Atty. Rocky Thomas Balisong attended an emergency meeting of the Beneco BOD.
The BOD and Rafael’s camp engaged in a tensed argument over her appointment and intent to assume office.
Rafael has asserted her appointment is effective immediately and is taking over the position, while the BOD said the NEA appointment is subject to the decision of the BOD to either confirm or reject it and reminded it is from the BOD that the powers and instructions for the general manager emanate, pursuant to Beneco by-laws, articles of incorporation, and the NEA guidelines spelled out in its own Memorandum 2017-035.
In a vote of 7-3, the BOD in its meeting on Aug. 31 rejected through a resolution Rafael’s appointment and voted 6-4 against the motion for the approval of her one-year Performance Management Contract (PMC), which has to be furnished NEA within 10 days.
Somngi said Beneco is business as usual and has directed Licoben to execute the PMC and proceed with his functions as general manager.
He asked the parties involved to accept the BOD decision and encouraged whoever is aggrieved to go to court to settle the conflict.
“It would be unfair to the consumers and to the allied organizations that supported Licoben as the next GM, a public support that NEA itself encouraged. We cannot ignore 192 resolutions of support. People have already spoken and we, as elected representatives of member-consumers in the board, cannot just ignore that,” Somngi said.
Rafael said they expected the BOD would decide the way it did, but claimed it is an ultra vires (beyond the powers) act.
“We are not honoring it. I will continue to work and discharge the functions, duties, and responsibilities as a general manager based on my appointment,” she said.
Her legal team in a press statement said Rafael’s appointment by NEA “is clear and regular in its face, so that no other action is required or otherwise needed before it becomes effective” and “the Beneco board resolution is nothing but a circumvention of the lawful process which they are bound to respect.”
Since her assumption, Rafael has issued memorandums and public advisories.
She has also been meeting some member-consumers to listen to their inquiries, problems, and concerns under a supposed “transparent Beneco.”
On the other hand, Licoben on the strength of the BOD’s reiteration of his appointment, assured Beneco member-consumers services will be unhampered and will continue to deliver what is expected of them.
Both camps also have already complied with the PMC requirement. Rafael’s PMC that was forwarded on Aug. 31 to NEA was signed with Beneco BOD vice president Luke Gomeyac, secretary Enrique Moresto, and members James Aclopen and Rocky Aliping.
Licoben and the Beneco BOD have also already submitted the former’s PMC, signed with the BOD president.
Somngi said the four board directors who signed Rafael’s PMC do not represent the majority of the 11-member BOD and there was no approved resolution authorizing them to sign the PMC in favor of Rafael. – Hanna C. Lacsamana