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House committee on energy admonishes NEA – BOA on Beneco row

The Committee on Energy of the Lower House on Tuesday approved a resolution unanimously admonishing the National Electrification Agency’s Board of Administrators for taking upon itself the appointment of a general manager for the Benguet Electric Cooperative.

The resolution likewise ordered for a status quo that shall be maintained for said position and told the NEA-BOA to revoke Resolution 2021 – 47 it earlier released appointing former Philippine Communications Operations Office assistant secretary Marie Rafael, a lawyer, to the position vacated with the death of former GM Gerardo Verzosa.
In approving the resolution, the congressmen took note that there was no vacancy in the position of GM when the NEA – BOA appointed Rafael, a former mayor of Natonin, Mountain Province.

The resolution said that NEA-BOA’s action “clearly constituted an ultra vires act,” an act done beyond one’s legal power or authority.

The congressmen told the NEA – BOA to follow the law (the electric cooperative law) wherein it “is quite clear that the powers of the NEA over EC’s are supervisory in nature and not be tantamount to control.”
While telling said BOA that it is not very familiar with the selection process, the congressmen said that its members “clearly violated or abused their power.”

They further said: “The NEA BOA interpreted the selected provisions of its issuance that will only cater to its intention,…” adding “that the discretionary power and authority to appoint a GM belongs exclusively to the BOD of the EC concerned and not to the BOA of the NEA.”

The selection and appointment of the GM, the congressmen noted “belongs exclusively to the BOD of the EC concerned and not the BOA of the NEA.”

Selecting and appointing the GM of Beneco, they added “is an overreach of their powers (and) is an ultra vires act.”

Noted Baguio lawyer Lauro Gacayan in a post on Facebook compared the NEA – BOA to the Judicial and Bar Council which interviews qualified persons for the position of justices and judges and submit three names to the President from whom the latter will choose his appointee.

In bold letters, Gacayan said: “they cannot submit only one name to the president, otherwise that is tantamount for the JBC making the appointment, not the president.”

Beneco had two applicants, Rafael and OIC Melchor Licoben, who were both interviewed and given a battery of tests by the NEA-BOA, however, it was only Rafael’s name that was forwarded to the Beneco board of directors.
He added: “No choice (in caps). In short, they (NEA – BOA) arrogated the power of the BOD to appoint the General Manger. They also violated their own Rules.”

Meanwhile, lawyers of Rafael filed charges of contempt, gross insubordination, willful violation of NEA rules and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the Cooperative and its member-consumers against seven directors and two officers of Beneco.

Rafael filed on September 6 the complaint against directors Esteban Songi, Jeffred Acop, Mike Maspil, Peter Busaing, Jonathan Obar, Josephine Tuling and Robert Valentin as well as Licoben and Institutional Services Department head Delmar Carino.

Rafael, in her complaint asked NEA to “suspend and subsequently dismiss and penalize the officers for open defiance of NEA.”

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