October 7, 2022

The Benguet Electric Cooperative is under a two-headed hydra and is thus paradoxically headless, to the loss of members and consumers.

The leadership problem is pending resolution of the petition, which was filed by Engr. Melchor Licoben questioning the appointment of Atty. Ana Maria Rafael by the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators (NEA-BOA) before the Court of Appeals.

In the interregnum, penalties and interests pile up, which by estimate counts to P500 million due to the non-payment of loans and obligations to suppliers, among other concerns.

All these are due to the fact that banks have frozen Beneco accounts due to the non-resolution of the leadership issue.

To pay Beneco’s obligations, the city council proposed to the two groups to sit together and find a way to settle them.

Transparency on the part of the two groups are necessary to break the impasse and stop the financial bleeding of Beneco. The two groups should submit themselves to an independent technical-financial audit to be conducted by a committee composed of the Cooperative Development Authority, Energy Regulatory Commission, and NEA.

As an aside, the Beneco board of directors who have millions of unliquidated cash advances pursuant to NEA audit report should be required to pay to help defray the payment of the obligations of Beneco.

As to the issue as to who is the rightful general manager, the question should be, which is the rightful body to appoint a general manager in case there is a vacancy.

I would say it is the NEA-BOA. The rationale is to preserve the independence of the general manager from the board.

To say that it is the BOD, which is the appointing authority is a prescription for corruption, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

The principle of checks and balances should be upheld as this could have prevented the BOD from dipping their fingers in the treasury of Beneco resulting in unliquidated cash advances.

With the above backdrop, it is not difficult to understand that the members and consumers will be at the losing end.

Whoever will be declared the general manager will be hard put in managing the finances of Beneco. It would be inevitable that the electricity rates will be increased to be able to pay for the numerous loans of Beneco. Quo vadis Beneco? — CLR. FRED BAGBAGEN, Baguio City