April 14, 2024

The House Committee on Legislative Franchise passed a consolidated version of Benguet Electric Cooperative’s franchise renewal filed by Baguio City Rep. Mark Go and Rep. Eric Go Yap.

“We are very grateful to the members of the Legislative Franchise Committee for finally approving consolidated version of  HB 6145 of Rep. Go and HB 9402 of Rep.Yap. The committee members present during the committee hearing even agreed to co-author the consolidated HB. Their co-authorship is very important because the committee approval is only the first step. Our journey in getting our franchise renewal still has a long way to go. After this we still have to hurdle the plenary and eventually the Senate approval,” newly appointed General Manager Melchor Licoben said.

Licoben led the contingent from Beneco management with Task Force Beneco Interim Board, supported by the officers of the Electric Cooperative Member Consumer Owners United (EC-MCOU) group led by its president Dane Ducayag.

Beneco’s 50-year franchise ends by March 2028. In anticipation of the difficult and long process, Licoben’s management team has started working on the franchise renewal as early as three years ago.

“We also need to find a champion in the Senate. Hopefully after the plenary we will be able to find a champion in the Senate to sponsor or author our franchise renewal. We are looking forward to requesting Sen. Raffy Tulfo and Sen. Win Gatchalian being the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Senate’s Committee on Energy. We are also hoping to get the support of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Sen. Robinhood Padilla, and hopefully all the other members of the Senate,” Licoben said.

Gatchalian has been consistent in his support for Beneco when the management impasse happened in 2021 during his chairmanship of the Senate’s Committee on Energy.

The crisis that resulted in committee hearings in Congress and the Senate prompted Gatchalian to visit and look at how the coop operates, and established that Beneco is not an ailing electric cooperative to justify a takeover.

Licoben also expressed Beneco’s gratitude to Reps. Presley De Jesus of the PHILRECA Party-list and Sergio Dagooc of APEC Party-list for closely working with the coop on crucial matters like the franchise renewal.

They were vital in bring Beneco’s struggles to the national leaders attention.

“We still appeal to our member-consumers to continue their support. Your resolutions of support are very crucial in the plenary, more so when it reaches the Senate. All sectors of society rallying behind Beneco through resolutions of support will be an undeniable testament that Beneco has served Baguio City and Benguet well in the past 50 years, and it deserves to have its franchise renewed to continue serving its MCOs,” Licoben said. – Laarni S. Ilagan