March 24, 2023

The yet to be resolved leadership crisis at the Benguet Electric Cooperative is not only affecting employees within the organization, but also the member-consumers, who are caught in between policy differences imposed by the people claiming to be the legitimate managers of the utility.
Beneco critic, Baguio Councilor Fred Bagbagen, said the leadership row has resulted in confusion among members-consumers especially in the payment of bills and other fees. Members and consumers also need to be clarified about the collection of P500 capital share, he added.
Through a resolution, officials of the National Electrification Administration, Cooperative Development Authority, and Beneco board of directors-appointed general manager, Engr. Melchor Licoben and NEA-appointed general manager, lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael, and Beneco board president Esteban Somngi are expected in the city council session tomorrow, Feb. 14 to clarify these concerns.
Since last year, camps of Licoben and Rafael have been issuing advisories about where members-consumers should pay their bills.
The conflicting advisories have resulted in many members-consumers not being credited their payments despite settling their bills on time.
Recently, a group claiming to be members of the Beneco Multi-Sectoral Advisory Council has been calling on other member-consumers not to pay the P500 capital share as Beneco’s membership with the CDA has not been approved yet.
The Licoben-led Beneco management refuted these claims by releasing an advisory containing frequently asked questions about the policies and benefits that member-consumers may avail with Beneco’s registration with the CDA.
Licoben said collection of capital share has been approved by member-consumers who, during the 2019 annual general membership assembly (AGMA) voted to register the Beneco with the CDA and subsequently the payment of P500 minimum capital share in the October 2021 AGMA.
He said collection of capital share is a requirement to sustain operations of a cooperative and official receipts are issued as proof of payment.
Subscribed shares will be used to invest in businesses related to electric distribution and other activities that the law allows electric cooperatives to undertake.
He clarified that Beneco will not operate as a multipurpose cooperative (MPC) and members cannot avail of loans as what is done in MPCs.
Benefits that member-consumers may avail are patronage refund and dividends. – Rimaliza A. Opiña