Mayor denounces suppression of Beneco funds
Mayor Benjamin Magalong has strongly denounced moves suppressing Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc. (BENECO) funds deposited in banks saying these were selfish acts perpetrated without regard to the welfare of the member-consumers numbering 130,000.
“Right from the start, it has been the city’s position that the leadership problem should not by all means lead to disruption of services by the power cooperative since the decision on the issue now rests with the court. But as it is turning out, BENECO’s services are bound to be affected by this unconscionable move to curtail its funds by the depository banks apparently due to pressure from the opposing camp,” the mayor said on August 6.
He said BENECO under General Manager Melchor Licoben has so far maintained its gold standard service despite the challenges posed by the leadership impasse.
“And now its lifeblood is being curtailed to ruin its service and reputation without regard to the people dependent on its services. It’s unconscionable and downright despicable,” the mayor lamented.
The BENECO management led by Licoben and the board of directors affirmed that most of the depository banks had frozen the power cooperative’s accounts apparently due to pressures from the group of Atty. Marie Rafael and the National Electrification Administration.
They said this has affected the cooperative’s cash flow and resulted in its defaulting with the payment to its power supplier on two occasions after the banks refused to honor its transactions.
While the banks froze BENECO’s accounts, they had allowed withdrawals made by the opposing camp, the officials said.
They said the camp’s moves were in total disregard of House Resolution 213 which urged NEA to maintain a status quo until the issue on the selection of the general manager has been resolved.
Magalong had from the start called for a status quo on the management of the cooperative pending resolution of the case.
“Our position remains that pending the decision of the court, this leadership issue must in no way compromise the people of Baguio and other consumers’ interest and right to efficient and dependable service pursuant to BENECO’s status as a gold standard electric cooperative,” the mayor said.
He reiterated the city’s support to General Manager Melchor Licoben who he said deserves to continue steering the power firm because of his leadership, competency, technical skill, character and humility. – Aileen P. Refuerzo/Dexter A. See