February 5, 2023

The provincial board of Benguet has requested President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to cause the investigation of the National Electrification Administration-Board of Directors whether it has committed lapses on its series of actions on the Benguet Electric Cooperative leadership. 

In Resolution 2022-48, the provincial board said prior to the actions of the NEA-BOA that “caused the turmoil within the cooperative,” Beneco was one of the top performing electric cooperatives. 

It cited the events that took place that caused the power struggle, which divided Beneco, now under the leadership of two general managers – Engr. Melchor Licoben and Atty. Ana Maria Paz Rafael. 

The provincial board said there should be an investigation to determine if the NEA-BOA has committed grave misconduct or acts of corruption for violating NEA memorandums 2017-035, or the “revised policy on the selection, hiring, termination of service/suspension for general managers of electric cooperatives” and 2018-004 which promulgated the revised policy guidelines on the conduct of examination and interview for applicants to the position of general managers of ECs.

The board said the NEA-BOA has three violations of the two NEA memorandums, especially when it accepted the application of Rafael as general manager of Beneco even if she did not possess the qualifications.

The board added the NEA-BOA also violated NEA Memorandum 2017-035 for failing to observe the power of the Beneco board of directors to review and select the general manager.

NEA Memorandum 2018-004 also provides that the list of applicants who passed the NEA BOA final interview, with necessary information and results of the background investigation, shall be transmitted to the board of the EC for perusal and selection.

The resolution said after the final interview, the NEA-BOA rated Rafael with 94 percent and Licoben with 82.75 percent.

The NEA-BOA then passed a resolution recommending only the applicant with a higher score to the Beneco BOD, which the provincial board has argued should not be the case.

The resolution stated the two memos from NEA “were issued and promulgated as policies and guidelines for all ECs, and that these policies should not be supplanted by prerogatives.”

“This body is hopeful that what happened to Beneco will not also happen to other electric cooperatives,” the resolution reads. 

The NEA-BOA was chaired by Usec. Emmanuel Juaneza, the alternate of chairman, former Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi with members Agustin Maddatu, Alipio Badelles, Rene Gonzales, and former NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong.

Aside from the President, copies of the resolution will also be forwarded to the Senate through Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla. Copies of the resolution will also be given to Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, Gov. Melchor Diclas, the 13 mayors of Benguet, and Beneco. – Ofelia C. Empian