November 30, 2022

The Benguet provincial board has deferred action on a proposed resolution that seeks to declare lawyers Ana Maria Rafael and Omar Mayo as persona non grata in the province in relation to the leadership crisis at Benguet Electric Cooperative. 

Proponent Board Member Juan Nazarro, Jr. has manifested that due process must be observed by giving Rafael and Mayo a chance to explain their side on why they should not be declared persona non grata.

Nazarro said Rafael, who was appointed general manager of Beneco by the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators, and Mayo, who is the NEA project supervisor for Beneco, were invited to appear before the provincial board in its regular session.

Nazarro said the provincial board must consult with other officials of the province, such as the congressman, the governor, and the 13 mayors before taking action on the proposed resolution.

“When you say you declare a person a persona non grata, that is the whole officialdom of the province of Benguet that we are representing. So, we could not declare them unless we follow the procedure,” Nazarro said.

He said declaring a person unwelcome in the province will need to undergo proper procedure so that concerned officials will not be held liable for any civil or criminal cases. 

The proposed resolution was filed after Mayo and Rafael forced their entry to the Beneco main office at South Drive, Baguio City in the early morning of Oct. 18. 

The provincial board also passed a separate resolution condemning the Oct. 18 incident, as well as requested President Rodrigo Duterte through Spokesperson Harry Roque to intervene in the ongoing leadership struggle between Rafael and Engr. Melchor Licoben, who was appointed general manager by the Beneco board of directors. – Ofelia C. Empian