A veteran congressman has hailed the National Electrification Administration's (NEA) decision to recall the probational appointment of the Benguet Electric Cooperative's (BENECO) general manager in a bid to save the privately-owned utility firm from further regression.
PHILRECA Party-list Rep. Presley de Jesus said that NEA Administrator Mariano Antonio Almeda made a move in the right direction by calling out lawyer Ana Maria Paz Rafael in order to restore the damaged integrity and credibility of the company.
“The service of energizing and distributing power to the public within its franchise area carried out by electric cooperatives should not be afflicted with self-interest nor politicized,” De Jesus said in a statement over the weekend.
PHILRECA stands for Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association.
De Jesus praised Almeda for “taking this necessary step in order to correct the illegal appointment of the General Manager of BENECO and once again be able to deliver high quality service to the MCOs (member-consumer owners)".
“The current NEA Administrator demonstrates integrity, dedication, and determination in serving the ECs (electric cooperatives) and MCOs. Moving forward, we hope that in the process of selecting and appointing BENECO’s general manager, NEA and all concerned stakeholders would strictly abide by the established rules and regulations in order to maintain the peaceful and competitive service of the cooperative to its MCOs,” the solon added.
The NEA, in a resolution issued earlier this week, ordered the removal of BENECO’s directors following findings of long-standing irregularities in the management of the power distributor.
The agency also recalled the probationary appointment of Rafael as BENECO general manager “effective immediately".
Since Rafael’s assumption as general manager, BENECO’s rating has reportedly regressed to category C from AAA category based on the 2019 NEA electric cooperatives overall performance assessment, NEA noted.
According to the agency, the sacked directors “unduly received benefits and allowances, availed of and mismanaged substantial loans to the detriment of BENECO, as well as amended the terms of payment for several of its service providers without the required approval of NEA, among others".
The NEA also ruled that the same directors were disqualified for reinstatement or reemployment in any electric cooperative, and to run as candidate for a board of director position in any cooperative.
They were subsequently ordered to refund to BENECO the disallowed amounts they received, while their other monetary benefits forfeited.
The NEA also created Task Force BENECO to act as interim board of directors. The board is composed of representatives from various sectors such as the business, academe/education, consumer/professional, agricultural and religious sectors.
De Jesus said PHILRECA Party-list rallies behind NEA and express its support to administrator Almeda “in the pursuit of total electrification and sustainable rural development in the country".