De Lima seeks inquiry into NEA’s mandate after BENECO fiasco

De Lima seeks inquiry into NEA’s mandate after BENECO fiasco

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima underscored the need to
review the mandate of the National Electrification Administration
(NEA) to prevent a repeat of the recent leadership squabble involving
the government-owned corporation and the Benguet Electric Cooperative
(BENECO).

De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice,
Welfare and Rural Development filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR)
No. 937 that seeks to ensure that it provides sufficient safeguards
against abuses that run contrary to the spirit of the Philippine
Cooperative Code.

“Nariyan ang NEA para maging katuwang ng mga kooperatiba tulad ng
BENECO, hindi para maging hadlang sa mahusay at episyenteng serbisyo
nito. Lalo na sa panahon ng krisis, hindi pansariling interes at
pagluklok sa poder, kundi pasya at ikabubuti ng serbisyo sa mas
nakakarami ang dapat igalang ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno,” she said a
separate statement.

“With the uproar that this incident has caused, there is a clear need
to determine whether the NEA’s takeover was valid and legal under our
relevant laws.”

“NEA’s mandate should be reviewed to ascertain whether it exceeded its
authority in taking over BENECO in spite of the absence of any
indication that the latter is an ailing cooperative,” she added.

Notably, Chapter I, Article 2 of Republic Act No. 6938, as amended by
Republic Act No. 9520, or the “Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008”,
declares, in part, that the State shall “foster the creation and
growth of cooperatives as a practical vehicle for promoting
self-reliance and harnessing people power towards the attainment of
economic development and social justice.”

Last Oct. 18, NEA officials and appointees, as led by lawyer Omar
Mayo, a NEA-appointed caretaker, staged a pre-dawn takeover of
BENECO’s headquarters.

Just a few days after, last Oct. 20, employees and
member-consumer-owners (MCOs) took back the BENECO headquarters
prompting staff of NEA-appointed general manager and lawyer Ana Maria
Rafael to leave the BENECO compound.

Mayo, for his part, was later declared persona non grata by the Baguio
City Council for leading the forceful takeover of the utility serving
Baguio and Benguet province. (ai/mtvn)

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