June 21, 2024

The term of office of the board of directors (BOD) and other officers of Benguet Electric Cooperative is still uncertain as the National Electrification Administration is yet to come up with a directive on when the tenure of those chosen to sit in an interim capacity will end.

At the city council inquiry about the impending expiration of the power supply contract of Beneco with power supply provider Team Energy on May 8, interim BOD president Steve Cating said the six months tenure of the interim officials that supposedly reckoned on January and is expected to end by June, is unofficial.

Cating said there is no official document showing when their tenure will expire such that any movement at the Beneco now will depend on the instructions of the NEA in consultation with Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas.

He said the BOD will continue following its mandate at least until October – the scheduled election of BOD.

However, the October election is uncertain as the interim BOD still has a lot to finish such as to fulfill the requirements to complete Beneco’s registration with the Cooperative Development Authority; participate in the negotiation for the power supply contract; pursuit of the renewable energy project in Kabayan, Benguet; energization of 1,000 sitios in Benguet; revive the triple A ra-ting of Beneco, and selection of a general manager.

“It is a fluid process. We hope the issue on the position for general manager will be resolved quickly,” Cating said.

Pending before the Court of Appeals is a petition filed by Assistant General Manager Melchor Licoben questioning the NEA’s appointment of a GM citing guidelines that state appointment is by the BOD.

Beneco has recently published a vacancy in the position of general manager where Cating said the BOD will appoint the GM but the NEA will do a background check on the applicant/s.

In January, the NEA suspended then BOD-appointed GM Licoben and in his stead, appointed Assistant GM Ramel Rifani as acting GM, terminated the appointment of lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael, and removed from office the BODs for various violations based on a NEA audit.

NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda, on the other hand, sat as project supervisor.   

Licoben, who was suspended for 45 days, has returned as AGM.

In the hiring of a GM, Licoben, who once applied for the position will repeat the same process he undertook when he first applied, Cating said.

In 2020, the NEA accepted applications for Beneco GM. The applicants were Licoben and Rafael. Citing that the latter garnered the higher mark in the final interview, she was appointed the GM by the NEA Board of Administrators.

But the issue on the appointment both Licoben and Rafael has resulted in a management impasse because of two people insisting that they are qualified to head one of the most successful electric cooperatives in the country. – Rimaliza A. Opiña