December 4, 2022

The provincial board of Benguet will soon discuss a proposed resolution seeking to declare lawyers Ana Maria Rafael and Omar Mayo as persona non grata in the province.

Rafael was appointed the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators as general manager of Benguet Electric Cooperative while Mayo was designated by NEA as project supervisor for Beneco following a leadership crisis in the electric cooperative.

The resolution was filed before the provincial board after NEA personnel occupied Beneco general headquarters at South Drive, Baguio City on Oct. 18 in the presence of armed police personnel.

Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis, in his Facebook account, has bared the lists of resolutions of the SP to be discussed on first reading on Oct. 25 in the regular session of the provincial board.

The proposed resolutions include the provincial board’s reiteration of support to Engr. Melchor Licoben as the general manager of Beneco and condemning and denouncing the deployment of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation personnel and occupation by force of the Beneco office.

Other proposed resolutions filed urged Rafael to seek for other office in the national level and endorsed to President Rodrigo Duterte the appointment of Rafael as a member of the NEA BOA, or to any other national office or agency that befits her qualifications.

Gov. Melchor Diclas, in a statement Oct. 20, also upheld the leadership of Licoben and the seven members of the board of directors and condemned the act of NEA in forcibly occupying the Beneco office. 

“Beneco remains to be one of the electric cooperatives that charge the cheapest power rates from its member-consumer-owners. Not only this, but the cooperative under Engr. Licoben’s leadership has been active in ensuring power supply especially during typhoons which greatly helps the government in its emergency responses and communication efforts,” Diclas said.

Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, in an interview, said he does not have to take sides over the issue.

He said he has earlier called Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi, the NEA BOA, Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc., and the House Committee on Energy for them to resolve the issue peacefully. 

Ang nakikita kong solusyon, unang-una nasa korte iyan, pero matagal kasi ang korte. Kaya iyong ginawa namin ni Cong. Mark Go na pag-usapin iyong dalawa para sana magkaroon ng win-win solution,” Yap said, citing the series of meetings set by Go between Rafael and Licoben.  

Yap, however, expressed his dismay over the action of the NEA with the police personnel from the Police Regional Office-Cordillera in entering the Beneco compound early morning of Oct. 18.

He said he talked with PRO-Cor Director B/Gen. Ronald Lee and the latter said they were deputized by NEA to ensure peace and order in the area and were only implementing the validation of intelligence reports that Beneco operations will allegedly be sabotaged that day.  

He said Lee has assured the police are there to ensure peace and order and not to side any camp.

Yap said he is coordinating with Go for the continuous dialogue of both camps to come up with a peaceful resolution on Beneco leadership crisis. – Ofelia C. Empian