MANILA - The National Electrification Administration (NEA) board of administrators (BOA) has approved the appointment of a Palace official as general manager of Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) based on the legal opinion rendered by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
On July 29, 2021, the NEA BOA passed Regular Board (RB) Resolution No. 2021-71 that approved the appointment of Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Anna Marie Rafael as general manager of the power utility serving Benguet province instead of Melchor Licoben, Beneco's acting manager.
Based on the OGCC legal opinion, Licoben had exposed his lack of integrity and probity for not relinquishing his post as the incumbent officer-in-charge (OIC), which had impacted his fitness to be Beneco's general manager.
The OGCC cited that under NEA Memorandum 2017-035, an officer-in-charge (OIC) GM, who applies for the position for GM, shall relinquish his OIC designation as mandatory.
The OGCC also said NEA is authorized and empowered to supervise the management of all electric cooperatives, which are subject to the police power of the State as they are holders of legislative franchises and their business is imbued with the public interest.
RB Resolution No. 2021-71 also declared as "unreasonable" the Beneco board of directors (BOD) Resolution No. 2021-87 rejecting NEA's resolution that endorsed Rafael (as contained in NEA Board Resolution No. 2021-47) and reiterating the appointment of Licoben as the new Beneco chief (as contained in Beneco's BOD Resolution No. 2020-90)
The NEA BOA found the justification in the Beneco BOD Resolution No. 2021-87 as violative of NEA Memorandum 2017-035, which pertains to the selection, hiring, and termination of services, suspension for the general managers of electric cooperatives.
"The BOD's reiteration and use of Resolution 2020-90 to justify their rejection of BR No. 2021-47, after applicant Mr. Licoben has undergone the regular process of hiring...is unjustified and an encroachment of the power and prerogatives of the NEA BOA at this stage of the selection process and such is tantamount to dictating upon the NEA BOA to confirm BENECO BOD Resolution 2020-90 in violation of NEA rules," the NEA BOA said.
The NEA board decided to select Rafael as she was the candidate with the higher score during the final interview.
Licoben scored 82.75 percent while Rafael drew a 94-percent mark, according to NEA Board Resolution No. 2021-47. (Filane Mikee Cervantes, PNA)