November 27, 2022

Management of the Benguet Electric Cooperative has clarified the reason the distribution utility has suspended the collection of bill payments in three government and four private banks.
In an advisory issued on Dec. 27, 2021, Beneco General Manager Melchor Licoben said two of Beneco’s depository banks – Landbank of the Philippines and Philippine National Bank – effected a change in signatory and closure of the utility’s accounts.
The Development Bank of the Philippines meanwhile, does not recognize Licoben and Beneco Board of Director President Esteban Somngi as signatories.
Three private banks – Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Rang-ay Bank – have frozen Beneco’s accounts, while Summit Bank filed a declaratory relief before the court.
Licoben said since Beneco cannot access its bank records, it does not have control over the funds deposited to these financial institutions.
Those who paid their bills through the banks were encouraged to request for a refund and submit their proof payment to Beneco.
“Although the payments made (through the banks) will reflect as arrearages, we will not implement any disconnection nor impose any surcharges,” the Beneco Advisory 2021-64 stated.
Licoben issued the advisory as clarification to Advisory 2021-64 issued on Dec. 22, 2021 that informed member-consumers that the seven banks are no longer authorized to collect Beneco bill payments.
Saying payments made through the banks will not be posted on the ledgers of member-consumers, Beneco advised its clients to settle their bills at South Drive, Maharlika Livelihood Complex, Maharlika, Baguio City and Bonuan Condominium, Salud Mitra in Baguio City; Beneco building at Km. 4, Balili, La Trinidad and Bekes, Buyacaoan, Buguias in Benguet; and to the various authorized collections agents in the different barangays.
The suspension of bill payments to the banks resulted from the leadership crisis besetting Beneco, which started when the National Electrification Administration appointed former Presidential Communications Operations Office Asec. Ana Marie Rafael as general manager despite the BOD’s earlier appointment of Licoben as GM.
The NEA has since suspended Licoben and the seven BODs for not recognizing Rafael as Beneco GM.
The 90-day suspension order, which was served on Sept. 28, 2021, is expected to have expired on Dec. 28, 2021.
The preventive suspension order stemmed from the administrative case filed by Rafael against the seven BODs and Licoben for their refusal to abide by NEA-BOA Resolution 2021-71 that named her as GM. – Jane B. Cadalig