October 1, 2023

The vigilance shown by member-consumers of the Benguet Electric Cooperative at the height of the management impasse in the company should not end with the takeover of the utility by the National Electrification Administration.
The recent pronouncement of the interim board of directors (BOD) president that their tenure in office will depend on the instructions of the NEA should serve as wake-up call for member-consumers to demand that much as they clamored for an election of the past BOD due to infractions they committed as shown in an audit report, NEA and its appointees should also be transparent about its plans with Beneco.
When NEA appointed an BOD, member-consumers who were caught by surprise about the NEA’s move had no choice but to accept whomever were appointed sans word why and how they were qualified in the first place.
The interim BOD through its president recently informed the city council there is no document showing when their tenure will end, adding that with a lot more to be done at the Beneco such as regaining the utility’s AAA rating, finalizing the contract for a new power supplier, pursuing other projects for renewable energy, and hiring a new manager, things remain fluid at the Beneco.
Among the BOD president’s pronouncements, we find these disturbing: there is no official document about their tenure and the need to consult with the chief executives of Baguio and Benguet.
When they were appointed interim officials, shouldn’t the first order of the day is to have a document containing the dates of their tenure, their remuneration, and their job description, among other details?
If there is no set date, are we to assume that the interim board will be there for as long as the NEA wants, similar to the extendible terms of the recent board? What reforms do we expect when we are in the dark about future plans for the utility?
Why the need to “consult” officials of Baguio and Benguet? If there is anyone to consult, is it not the member-consumers? As a public utility, the least that member-consumers should want are politicians dipping their fingers into the affairs of a company endowed with public interest.
With things remaining volatile at Beneco, member-consumers who in the past years have been active in calling out what they think are abuses being committed at the utility, this is not the time to be quiet.
As the interim officials are trying to put order into the mess that NEA was partly responsible for, member-consumers should demand that Beneco policies should prevail. Part of the responsibility of the interim officials was supposed to lay the ground work for the entry a new batch of BOD, not take on the responsibility of regularly elected directors.
The interim officials may have good intentions and are also competent in their own way, but if they so wish to continue with what they have started as they claim, they too should follow the process by seeking for the election of a new BOD.
Some quarters are still giving the interim board the benefit of the doubt, as it has good plans for the cooperative and its member-consumers which it does not want to report as of now.
Member-consumers should be gi-ven the chance to make their voices heard by voting those whom they think can represent them, and not settle with the choices of a few.