Robredo says the Beneco takeover an ‘eye opener’ for NEA, gov’t

Published December 6, 2021, 8:01 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The controversial takeover of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), one of country’s top-performing electric cooperatives, could teach a lesson to the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Vice President Leni Robredo said on Monday, Dec. 6.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

Robredo, an opposition leader who is vying for presidency in 2022, said the forcible takeover of the Beneco office in Baguio City was an “eye-opener” for the government.

“Ito kasi ang pinaka problema dito (The main problem here) brings us to ano ba ‘yung (what is the) role that NEA should play? Ano ‘yung (What is the) role that NEA should play in so far as the electric cooperatives are concerned and ano ‘yung relationship, or ano ‘yung mga karapatan ng mga (what is the relationship or rights of the) member consumers?,” she said in a media briefing in Baguio City.

The Vice President noted the NEA had no business interfering with the affairs of Beneco in the appointment of its general manager.

“Ang may karapatan mag-appoint ‘yung board, ano ‘yung role ng NEA? Ang role niya lang is to make sure na ‘yung mga tumatakbo ay na-screen nila, na-screen nila na siya ay nagfi-fit sa mga qualifications (It is the right of the board to appoint, what’s the role of NEA? Its role is to make sure that those seeking the post are screened, they are fit to the qualifications),” she said.

On October 18, armed police personnel stormed the Beneco main headquarters to implement NEA’s suspension order against the electric cooperative’s officer-in-charge Melchor Licoben and the seven board directors.

READ: BENECO employees barred from work as new leadership takes over

The preventive suspension stemmed from the officials’ refusal to recognize general manager Ana Maria Rafael who was appointed by NEA.

This incident caused a leadership impasse, but the member-consumer-owners (MCOs) reclaimed the Beneco office two days after the forcible takeover.

Robredo said the NEA must be an “enabling” and “empowering” agency to the electric cooperatives.

“Dapat ‘yung role na pineplay niya very effective partner na tinutulungan niya ‘yung mga electric cooperatives na matawid ‘yung mga pangangailangan ng electric cooperatives, ma-fulfill ‘yung mga standards, ma-comply ‘yung mga kailangang abutin (The role it should play is to be a very effective partner who helps electric cooperatives to meet their needs, fulfill their standards, and comply with standards),” she said.

The aspiring president also lauded the resolve of the MCOs to take back Beneco in a peaceful way.

“So sa ‘kin, ang kailangan dito i-congratulate ‘yung mga (for me we have to congratulate the) member consumers…Matahimik na vigilance pero hindi pumayag na hindi sila ‘yung pakinggan (They were in silent vigilance but they refused not to be heard),” she said.