Gatchalian supports the Senate investigation into the forced buyout of BENECO

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has joined calls for a congressional inquiry into the alleged forcible takeover of the offices of the Bengue Electric Cooperative (BENECO) to shed light on the circumstances that led to changes in its management.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, said he was preparing to table a Senate resolution on the issue, stressing that such an incident creates uncertainty in the minds of consumers.

“Our concern is stability in this area. Baguio is a very urbanized city and we don’t want them to experience any blackouts because of this turmoil, ”Gatchalian said during a recent Senate hearing on the Administration’s proposed 3.896 billion pesos budget. National Electrification (NEA).

At the same time, Gatchalian urged the NEA to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the city of Baguio and the 13 cities of Bengue province amid the leadership crisis in BENECO.

During the hearing, the administrator of the NEA Emmanuel Juaneza assured the senatorial energy panel that “there are no longer any problems in the region with regard to BENECO”.

At the same time, Juaneza has held firm on the appointment of Ana Maria Rafael as Managing Director.

But Gatchalian said an internal analysis of the current BENECO mess showed it was the NEA that failed to follow its own memorandum regarding the succession mechanism and the selection process when it appointed Rafael. as new general manager.

The senator, citing NEA memorandum 2017-035, said that the revised policy on the selection, hiring, termination / suspension of general managers of electric cooperatives (ECs), clearly provides the rule allowing the BENECO board of directors to select the managing director of their choice and that the NEA only intervenes if the board rejects all the pre-qualified candidates.

“We don’t want the NEA, the supervisor of all ECs, to tax people on a well-run and functioning cooperative and that’s not the intention of the law,” Gatchalian said.

He said the intention of the law is for the EC to govern itself and the NEA will only step in during problematic times, if it is poorly managed or if it is a struggling cooperative.

“My call to the NEA is to review your own rules. Make sure you follow your own rule and make sure BENECO works well because we owe it to the people of Baguio, ”he stressed.

“We must ensure that electricity is constantly flowing to the homes of our constituents in Baguio,” added the lawmaker.


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Norman D. Briggs