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NEA decided on BENECO’s disputed leadership

The National Electrification Administration has finally decided on BENECO’s leadership. For the longest time, BENECO’s leadership from either side are disputed. Both Engineer Melchor Licoben and Atty. Ana Maria Paz B. Rafael claim to be the legitimate BENECO General Manager. The BENECO Board of Directors’ support for either Engr. Licoben and Atty. Rafael were split. The turmoil in the leadership resulted to several court cases filed.

Finally, with the new NEA Administrator, Antonio Mariano C. Almeda, BENECO’s disputed leadership has finally been decided and a clear direction is now on the horizon.

The NEA Decision

The National Electrification Administration found that the BENECO Board of 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”. As a result of this, NEA removed the BENECO Board of Directors from their position, the Board of Directors removed were Esteban A. Somngi, Rocky M. Aliping, Enrique S. Moresto, Jonathan C. Obar, Robert L. Valentin, Josephine B. Tuling, Luke B. Gomeyac, Peter B. Busaing, Jeffred S. Acop, Mike W. Maspil, and James B. Aclopen.

NEA also suspended Engr. Melchor Licoben for forty-five (45) days for being administratively liable for negligence as a first offense.

As to the BENECO probationary employment of of Atty. Ana Maria Paz B. Rafael, such was recalled. This is for the reason that during her term BENECO’s rating as an electric cooperative has regressed to category C from AAA category in the 2019 NEA EC Overall Performance Assessment.

Moving Forward

With this decision, NEA has installed an interim leadership in BENECO to ensure the delivery of its services to the consumers. NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano C. Almeda will act as BENECO’s project supervisor for 6 months as directed by the Department of Energy. His role is to supervise the management and operation of the electric coop to ensure the delivery of electric service to the member-consumer-owners.

BENECO’s Network Systems Manager Engr. Ramel B. Rifani was appointed as the BENECO acting General Manager for 6 months. He was appointed by the NEA-BOA.

Due to the vacated Board of Director position in BENECO, the NEA BOA approved the creation of  Task Force BENECO. The task force will act as the Board of Directors of BENECO and members of the taskforce will represent different sectors such as Business, Academe/Education, Consumer/Professional, Agricultural and Religious sectors.

The members of the task force are Joaquin Gerenimo Depalog Jr., Elma Donaal, Steve Cating, George Dumawing and Rodolfo De Guia.

NEA Administrator Almeda said that during his 6 months term as the BENECO Project supervisor, he will focus on the election of the regular BENECO Board of Directors and the appointment of a regular BENECO General Manager.


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