PROTECT BENECO AMID LEADERSHIP STRUGGLE
The leadership crisis in Benguet Electric Cooperative resulted the day after in a confusion among members and other consumers on where and how to pay their electric bills after conflicting notices were posted on social media and other outlets.
At the crack of dawn on Oct.18, the locks of Beneco headquarters were destroyed, which allowed National Electrification Administration Project Supervisor for Beneco Atty. Omar Mayo and Atty. Marie Rafael, who was appointed Beneco general manager by NEA Board of Administrators, to gain entry of the facility.
The defense that police personnel, as deputized by the NEA, were there to assist in the enforcement of the suspension of Beneco officials sounded lame because of the timing. The suspended officials were not expected to be there at 3 a.m. The incident in fact took the leadership crisis into a whole different level when the employees were not convinced to report for work.
Then the conflicting notices took center stage in the saga that hogged headlines.
We fear that if this leadership crisis drags much longer, other critical services of Beneco such as in the field of maintenance will soon affect its overall operation, to the detriment of thousands of members and other consumers, who are the economic backbone of the electric cooperative.
In the impasse meantime, we call on all parties to restrain from any form of sabotage that will adversely affect the services and equipment of Beneco, as the general public will be at the losing end. It was reassuring that some of those earlier accused of allegedly planning to sabotage part of the operations of Beneco have denied any such plan inimical to public welfare.
The public heaved a sigh of relief when operations at Beneco, especially at its South Drive office, were back to normal after members and consumers helped Beneco employees return to work following a protest on Oct. 20.
While we are not in a position to discuss the legality of the leadership crisis which is now pending at the Court of Appeals, we call on all parties to maintain sobriety and allow Beneco employees to sustain the efficient delivery of services in spite of the social and political polarization this crisis has brought in our midst, especially as we are also still fighting this pandemic.
We also support the snowballing call to protect Beneco by means of encouraging the public, especially the member-consumers, to remain vigilant and to make all concerned officials of the electric cooperative accountable for their actions, ranging from financial to logistical decisions, especially in these uncertain times due to the leadership crisis.
Unknown to many, the most feared “takeover” among those knowledgeable on the dynamics of electric cooperatives is the unverified information of a possible takeover or acquisition of Beneco by well-connected private companies, which calls for public vigilance at all costs.
In deference to the past and current elective officials who have spoken on the leadership crisis and the continuing protest, the members and consumers are grateful to them for their show of concern for Beneco, and its employees, including their families.
While we also understand that the parties involved in the leadership crisis have their share of political supporters and that the 2022 elections is just around the corner, it is our firm belief that it is best that Beneco, as an entity, remains apolitical, as its overall operation, ranging from meter reading, fixing busted streetlights or transformers to bringing current to every household would always rely on its ever-dependable workforce, not those in the halls of power.
As we project that the leadership crisis will linger until such time the pending legal cases have been resolved, we support the continuing public appeal that all possibilities be explored, including the time-tested indigenous ways of settling disputes for a peaceful resolution of a crisis, such as what is happening with the leadership conflict in Beneco.
Let us all protect Beneco, which was molded by gentle hands and bright minds, making it one of the country’s most dependable electric cooperatives and an institution to be proud of in the highlands.