December 8, 2022

By a vote of 12-1, the Benguet provincial board has declared lawyer Omar Mayo, the National Electrification Administration project supervisor for Benguet Electric Cooperative as persona non grata in the province.

The resolution stemmed from the “raid-like takeover” by NEA of the Beneco main office along South Drive on Oct. 18 where anti-riot personnel of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera accompanied Mayo in entering the Beneco office.

Board Member Juan Nazarro, Jr., proponent of the resolution, said Mayo allegedly led the forceful entry of Beneco, which is an unacceptable act.

“It is contrary to our customs and traditions to do that. We are very peaceful and what he did was a forceful entry,” Nazarro said.

Board Member Jim Botiwey said Mayo has “cloth himself in implementing the law, disregarding the sentiment of the people.”

Board Member Bernard Waclin, who has abstained from signing the resolution, stated it is better to file a case against Mayo, or Atty. Marie Rafael, who was appointed general manager by the NEA Board of Administrators, if needed.

 Nazarro, for his part, the provincial board is still gathering information to determine if Rafael will also be declared as persona non grata or not.

Mayo, who appeared online during the provincial board’s regular session, said NEA has designated him to implement the suspension order of general manager Melchor Licoben, Beneco board president Esteban Somngi, and six directors.

Mayo reiterated to the provincial board he is only implementing the rule of law.

Along with Mayo, Rafael along with Beneco Director Enrique Moresto and volunteer lawyer Jingboy Atonen attended the session in person.

Mayo said the earlier declaration of him by the city council of Baguio as persona non grata cannot supersede a person’s right to travel and the action is merely an expression of sentiment. – Ofelia C. Empian