March 31, 2023

The Benguet provincial board has declared Atty. Ana Maria Rafael, who was appointed general manager of Benguet Electric Cooperative by the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators, as “persona non grata” in the province.

With 13-1 vote, the provincial board’s action during its regular session on Nov. 8 came a week after the same body declared Atty. Omar Mayo, the NEA project supervisor for Beneco, as unwelcome in the province.

The Courier has sought Rafael for her comments on the provincial board’s action, but she opted not to comment in the meantime, as she has yet to receive an official copy of the resolution.

Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis said the action of the board was based on the series of events that transpired starting from the application of Rafael as general manager of Beneco, where she was alleged by somemember-consumers and other stakeholders as not qualified for the position.

Another factor is the “raid-like takeover” by NEA of the Beneco headquarters along South Drive on Oct. 18 where personnel of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera accompanied Mayo in entering the Beneco office.

Waguis said Rafael, who appeared in person during the Nov. 3 session of the board along with Beneco Director Enrique Moresto and volunteer lawyer Jingboy Atonen, said she had no participation in the Oct. 18 event and that she arrived at the area at around 7 a.m.   

But the board has obtained a copy of the closed-circuit television surveillance footage with a time stamp of Rafael seen at the Beneco main office at around 5 a.m. of the same day.

Earlier, Rafael has informed the provincial board that she is reporting for work as Beneco general manager based on her appointment order from NEA.

“I just want to work. Unless and until my appointment is annulled, I need to work as the general manager,” Rafael said.

Rafael also informed the provincial board it is up to the body to decide on a resolution declaring her persona non grata in the province.

Board Member Florencio Bentres said it is clear that the local government units of Benguet have expressed their support to Engr. Melchor Licoben, who was appointed general manager by the Beneco board of directors. – Ofelia C. Empian