By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Worried that the leadership impasse will disrupt the
operations of Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO), Senator Win
Gatchalian urged the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to
undertake efforts to reach a middle ground with the employees and
officers of the utility company.
“My worry is the stability of the operations of BENECO. Baguio is a
highly urbanized city and BENECO supplies electricity to Baguio and 13
towns in the province of Benguet. Seeing your electric cooperative
being manhandled doesn’t send a good signal to consumers and that is a
concern,” Gatchalian said during the interpellation on the budget of
energy agencies at the Senate.
“We told NEA to look into this matter and find a compromise rather
than a litigation or a forceful implementation. Residents and business
owners alike are worried if there will be any sabotage in the
operations of BENECO or if disruptions in their electricity supply
will take place in the days to come,” the senator added.
But even as he made the call, the Senate Energy Committee Chairperson
emphasized that the planned inquiry into the issues between BENECO and
NEA will still push through as the conduct of the proceedings is in
aid of legislation.
Meanwhile, a complaint has been filed by BENECO against a NEA
official, former PCOO Assistant Secretary lawyer Ana Marie Rafael, and
several others before the city prosecutor’s office after the takeover
of BENECO’s main headquarters on October 18. Rafael was appointed by
NEA as BENECO’s general manager who was later on rejected by the power
NEA Chief Emmanuel Juaneza, on the other hand, said there is a pending
case against BENECO related to audit findings conducted by the
internal NEA audit team.
Just recently, the provincial board of Benguet declared Rafael persona
non grata. NEA legal officer Omar Mayo had also been declared persona
non grata in Benguet. Mayo is said to have led the armed takeover of
the BENECO main headquarters last month. (ai/mtvn)