December 8, 2022

Attempt to shuffle the leadership of the Benguet Electric Cooperative has met a setback as a Baguio court started hearing the petition that sought to prevent the distribution utility’s board of directors (BOD) from acting on the National Electrification Administration’s endorsement of a new Beneco general manager.

Regional Trial Court Branch 6 Judge Michael Francisco started hearing on May 14 the petition of member-consumers for the court to bar the Beneco BOD from favorably acting on the NEA board of administrators’ (BOA) endorsement of Atty. Marie Rafael as Beneco’s general manager.

The petitioners, represented by Atty. George Dumawing, also asked the court to declare as null and void the NEA BOA’s endorsement of Rafael as general manager. The NEA endorsement is contained in Resolution 2017-47.

Earlier, Baguio Executive Judge Maria Ligaya Itliong-Rivera granted a 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) against the letter of NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong that ordered the Beneco BOD to act on Rafael’s endorsement as general manager on or before May 14.

In his May 6 letter that was received by the Beneco BOD on May 10, Masongsong stated: “The action of the Beneco BOD on NEA Resolution 2012-47 must be manifested through a board resolution, which shall be submitted to NEA for confirmation on or before May 14.”

Masongsong’s letter also ordered the Beneco BOD to sign the one-year contract of Rafael as Beneco GM.

Itliong-Rivera granted the TRO, ci-ting the petitioners would suffer grave and irreparable injury if their urgent motion is not granted.

In their petition, the member-consumers said if the Beneco BOD approved the NEA BOA’s endorsement of Rafael, “Beneco will be managed by an unqualified person to the irreversible damage and prejudice of the member-consumer-owners.”

The petition stemmed from NEA BOA Resolution 2012-47 that endorsed Rafael as the lone candidate for Beneco GM for having garnered the highest points in the final interview for the position that also had Beneco OIC GM Melchor Licoben as applicant.

The Beneco BOD has appointed Licoben as the utility’s OIC GM in April last year and asked NEA to confirm the BOD’s intent in August. – Jane B. Cadalig