June 3, 2023


The leadership crisis besetting the Benguet Electric Cooperative should remind the regulatory agency supervising the management and operation of electric cooperatives to adhere to its policies to avoid a repeat of this crisis that is now confronting the distribution utility.
We refer to the National Electrification Administration, which is now being blamed by many quarters for the disorder that was created by its supposed failure to follow its own guidelines in the appointment of a general manager for Beneco.
For several days now, the more than 160,000 Beneco member-consumers have to contend with the issue on who is the rightful general manager of the electric distribution utility – is it Engr. Melchor Licoben who was appointed by the Beneco board of directors (BOD) in April 2020 or Atty. Ana Marie Rafael who was appointed by the NEA board of administrators (BOA) on July 29 this year?
Neither Licoben – backed by Beneco employees and BOD appointment nor Rafael, backed by her lawyers and NEA-BOA’s appointment– is backing down; each asserting the legality of their appointment to the electric coop’s top post.
Both parties have all the right to assert the legitimacy of the appointment of the one they are supporting; they can exchange legal opinions non-stop, but at the end of it all, the worst casualty of this legal tussle is the member-consumers and the delivery of quality services.
As we have already witnessed in the past days, some member-consumers who are bombarded with differing legal opinions and are now confused, while some have gone to resorting to character assassinations, an unfortunate situation that would have been avoided had NEA stuck to its policies in hiring a GM – from the qualifications of applicants to respecting the authority of BOD of electric coops to hire a GM.
We respect the stand of Rafael’s camp in asserting the legality of her appointment by the NEA-BOA and her supporters from various sectors much as we respect the stand of the Beneco BOD in asserting its power to appoint a general manager, the Beneco employees, member-consumers, local government units, and other stakeholders rallying behind Licoben.
We bank on the assurance that despite this squabble besetting Beneco, the quality services enjoyed by member-consumers will not be adversely affected.
As the legal spat is expected to drag on, we ask member-consumers to remain vigilant to ensure that the settlement of this crisis will be for their best interest.
Beneco, being a A+-rated cooperative because of efficient ma-nagement, serves as a template for the country’s 121 electric coops.
The conclusion of this leadership crisis will set a precedent for electric cooperatives whom the NEA vowed to work with in implementing rural electrification geared towards upholding the interest and benefit of the majority of electricity consumers.