NEA flagged over irregular selection of Benguet power co-op GM


SENATOR Sherwin T. Gatchalian said the National Electrification Administration (NEA) did not follow its own rules in selecting the new general manager (GM) of Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Beneco).

The NEA had endorsed Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Ana Maria B. Rafael as the co-op’s new GM.

“An internal analysis of the Beneco’s current mess showed that it was NEA that did not follow its own memorandum insofar as succession mechanism and selection process is concerned when it appointed the new general manager,” Mr. Gatchalian, who chairs his chamber’s energy committee, said in a statement Thursday.

He was referring to NEA Memorandum 2017-035 or the revised policy on the selection, hiring, termination of service or suspension of GMs of electric cooperatives.

The memo authorizes the Beneco board to select the GM of its choice and only allows the NEA to step in after the board rejects all of the pre-qualified applicants.

“My plea to NEA is to review your own rules. Make sure that you follow your own rules and make sure that Beneco is running smoothly because we owe it to the people of Baguio. We have to make sure that electricity is continuously flowing to the homes of our constituents in Baguio,” Mr. Gatchalian said.

Last month, 12 Beneco consumers filed an affidavit complaint against five members of the NEA board of administrators for violating two NEA rules, including Memorandum 2017-035, when the board chose Ms. Rafael as the electric cooperative’s new GM.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by BusinessWorld, NEA allegedly processed Ms. Rafael’s application even if there was no GM vacancy, and after the Beneco board had appointed Melchor S. Licoben as GM.

Among the respondents to the complaint are NEA Administrator Emmanuel P. Juaneza and former NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong.

BusinessWorld asked NEA for comment but it had not replied at the deadline.

In an interview on ANC on Oct. 20, DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the department is monitoring the issue. “Beneco is directly under NEA, but DoE is watching developments and making sure that there will be no interruption in service,” he said.

On Thursday, the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (Philreca) said that Beneco’s management, Board of Directors, employees, and member-consumer-owners oppose Ms. Rafael’s appointment.

“NEA even deputized the Philippine National Police… (and it reached) a point where around 50 heavily armed policemen had to take over Beneco’s South Drive office during the wee hours of Oct. 18,” Philreca said in a statement. — Angelica Y. Yang

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