December 8, 2022

The House Committee on Energy has called on the National Electrification Administration Board of Administrators to strictly comply with its own rules in the selection of general managers of electric cooperatives (ECs) and with the status quo within the Benguet Electric Cooperative until all issues on the selection of its general manager are resolved.
Atty. Ana Maria Paz Rafael, on the other hand, insists the NEA-BOA resolution appointing her as the new Beneco general manager cannot be enjoined unless ordered by the Court of Appeals upon proper petition.
In a resolution unanimously approved on Sept. 7, the House Committee on Energy compelled the NEA-BOA to adhere with NEA Memorandum 2017-035, which spells out the selection guidelines for EC general managers, particularly in the case of Beneco, and to fulfil its mandate as specified the NEA Decree or Presidential Decree 269 as a supervisory agency of ECs.
The House committee also said the NEA-BOA should revoke its Resolution 2021-47, which endorsed the applicant for general manager with the highest score in the final interview, considering there was no vacancy in the Beneco GM post, and it should evaluate thoroughly if the applicants posses all the qualifications under NEA Memo 2017-035 and endorse the names of all candidates who passed the final interview to the board of directors of ECs.
It also admonished NEA for repeated alleged ultra vires acts.
In a statement, Rafael through her lawyers said only the CA can enjoin NEA-BOA Resolution 2021-71, which appointed her, as the same is clear under Rule II Section 9 of the NEA Decree and therefore it is her responsibility to assume office and failure to do so would be a dereliction of duty and a disservice to the Beneco member-consumer-owners.
Rafael said in requiring status quo, the House committee would border on violation of the principles of separation of powers and check and balances of the government, adding the legislative branch cannot enjoin a co-equal branch, the executive, through NEA.
Rafael said House Resolution 1776 on which the conduct of inquiry in aid of legislation to thresh out the alleged overreach of NEA in the Beneco general manager selection process does not seek to supplant, override, and encroach upon the jurisdiction of NEA under existing laws.
Moreover, the former Presidential Communications Operations Office assistant secretary on Sept. 6 filed a complaint before the NEA asking to suspend and subsequently dismiss and penalize Beneco BOD president Atty. Esteban Somngi; directors James Acop, Mike Maspil, Peter Busaing, Jonathan Obar, Josephine Tuling, and Robert Valentin; BOD-appointed general manager Engr. Melchor Licoben, and Institutional Services Department Manager Atty. Delmar Cariño for indirect contempt, gross insubordination, open defiance of NEA rules, and conduct prejudicial to the interest of Beneco consumers.
The two camps also continue to fire off answers, re-buts, or rejoinders to each other’s statements in their respective advisories mostly posted in social media.
Licoben last week issued an advisory stating he is still the general manager upon the approval of Beneco BOD Resolution 2021-52 that reiterated his unanimous appointment in April 2020 and rejected the appointment of Rafael by the NEA-BOA.
The public was also advised that all communications issued by or intended for Beneco must be coursed through his office.
In her own advisory, Rafael said Licoben’s advisory “has no basis in fact and in law as he automatically ejected himself from his OIC general manager post when he submitted his application as general manager” and “that his advisory is endangering the affairs of Beneco.”
The Beneco Employees Labor Union (BELU), however, continues to recognize Licoben as the general manager.
BELU president Jefferd Monang said their union members continue to support Licoben and stressed the employees do the same on their own volition or without influence from anybody as they believe he is the duly appointed general manager being selected by the Beneco BOD.
Resolutions of support from Baguio and Benguet member-consumers; provincial, municipal and barangay officials, even as far as Mountain Province; and organizations and party-lists also continue to pour in for Licoben. – Hanna C. Lacsamana