MALACANANG has tossed to the energy department the plea of member consumer owners (MCOs) of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) to remove and replace the board of the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
Lawyer Kim Raisa Uy, asst. secretary of the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES), forwarded to the Department of Energy (DOE) on Oct. 22 the MCO resolution that called for President Rodrigo Duterte to sack the NEA Board of Administrators (BOA) for breaking the rules of selection for general manager (GM) to ensure that lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael becomes the GM of Beneco.
Melchor Licoben, Beneco general manager, and Esteban Somngi, Beneco board president, earlier transmitted the said resolution to President Duterte and attached their letter that said the NEA-BOA disturbed the peace of the people of Baguio and Benguet when the board abused its discretion in choosing the wrong GM.
In his transmittal letter, Uy said the OES is forwarding Licoben and Somngi’s letter and the MCO resolution to the DOE “for appropriate action subject to existing laws, rules, and regulations. “
The NEA-BOA are DOE Usec. Emmanuel Juaneza, lawyer Cirilo Badelles, Ramon Gonzales and Agustin Maddatu. Juaneza concurrently sits as the NEA administrator.
The MCOS accused them of favoring lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael, a former asst. secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), as the GM of Beneco despite not being qualified.
The NEA-BOA earlier endorsed Rafael as GM to the Beneco board owing to her higher score in the final interview than Melchor Licoben who was earlier appointed by the Beneco board as the GM.
But the Beneco board rejected the endorsement, saying the NEA should have endorsed the two applicants since both passed the final interview. The board said the power to choose the GM belongs to the Beneco board.
The NEA-BOA insisted on naming Rafael as the GM which the Beneco board has rejected anew.
Rafael attempted to sit as GM at the Beneco office in South Drive, Baguio City but the majority of the Beneco board, Licoben, and the employees refused to recognize her.
The NEA-BOA placed them under preventive suspension but the MCOs affirmed and reinstated their authority during the October 2 AGMA.
Rafael has filed a case before the NEA administrative committee for gross insubordination against Licoben, directors Somngi, Mike Maspil, Jefferd Acop, Robert Valentin, Josephine Tuling, Peter Busaing, and Jonathan Obar.
On Oct. 18, lawyer Omar Mayo, NEA designated project supervisor for Beneco, led a group of fully armed policemen and forcibly took over the Beneco office in the wee hours of that day.
The forced seizure triggered a widespread protest among the MCOs who, together with the employees, recaptured the Beneco office two days later.