February 22, 2024

■  Rimaliza A. Opiña 

Following the assumption of a new general manager, the Task Force Beneco has set the election of a new set of directors in April and September this year.

Beneco General Manager Melchor Licoben and interim board of directors chair Steve Cating said on separate occasions that dates have been set and guidelines for the elections are being refined prior to the publication of the notice of election.

Licoben made the announcement at the sidelines of the Beneco thanksgiving on Jan. 26 and on Jan. 29 by Cating, during the city council’s session where Beneco officials were invited for an inquiry regarding the power utility’s operations.  

The elections will be held on two dates – on April 24 for Districts 2, 5, and 6 for Baguio and Districts 7, 8, 10 for Benguet, and on Sept. 21 for Districts 1, 3, and 4 for Baguio and Districts 9 and 11 for Benguet.

Institutional Services Department Manager and legal counsel Delmar Cariño said the task force and management have agreed on two dates to give time for the transition between the interim board and the new directors.

The first batch of BODs will seat in April and will work along with the five-member task force, while the second batch will seat on September.

By Sept. 30, the interim BOD will cease to exist, Cating said, in accordance with the directive of the National Electrification Administration. 

The elections will usher a new set of board of directors following the takeover of the NEA due to the management impasse at the time and termination of the recent past BODs in Jan. 11, 2023.

The former BODs who were removed and disqualified from running as BOD again were Esteban A. Somngi, Rocky M. Aliping, Enrique S. Moresto, Jonathan C. Obar, Robert L. Valentin, Josephine B. Tuling, Luke B. Gomeyac, Peter B. Busaing, Jeffred S. Acop, Mike W. Maspil, and James B. Aclopen. They were also disqualified from being employed in any electric cooperative.

To recall, the NEA-Board of Administrators also revoked the appointment of lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael as general manager, suspended then assistant general manager Licoben, and designated Network Services Department Manager Ramel Rifani, while NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda took over as project supervisor.

Cating has assured the city council that upon assumption of the new directors, substantial reforms have been introduced in the Beneco, especially those concerning alleged irregular transactions in the utility company.