NEA urged to follow its own selection policy for Electric COOP’S General Manager

The Baguio City Council has called on the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to adhere to its own policy for the selection of general managers of electric cooperatives.

The council’s appeal came on the heels of a forum held last Monday regarding the issues raised by the board members of Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc.(BENECO) against NEA’s endorsement favoring Atty. Anna Marie Banaag-Rafael as the lone candidate for the position of general manager of BENECO.

The BENECO board has issued several resolutions recommending Engr. Melchor Licoben as the general manager and vehemently expressing their opposition against NEA’s single candidate endorsement.

The city legislators argued that there were some lapses on the part of NEA, citing provisions of Memorandum No. 2017-35 that were not complied with. The memorandum was issued by NEA in October 2017, spelling out the recruitment policy for general managers of electric cooperatives in the country.

Nollie Alamillo, Chairperson of NEA’s selection committee, admitted that one candidate failed to submit documents indicating their five-year work experience in the effective management of an electric utility-related business enterprise as required under d.6 of the memorandum.

The councilors questioned the move of the selection committee to allow the said candidate to go through the selection process despite the latter’s absence of proof of qualifications.

According to Alamillo, both Licoben and Banaag-Rafael passed the qualifying examinations and the initial interview, underwent a background investigation, and advanced to the final interview conducted by the NEA Board of Administrators.

The memorandum states that “the list of applicants who passed the NEA Board final interview, with necessary information and results of the Background Investigation, shall then be transmitted to the Electric Cooperative (EC) Board for perusal and selection.”

According to BENECO Board President Esteban Somngi, only the name of Banaag-Rafael was forwarded by NEA to the BENECO board.

Atty. Delmar Cariño, BENECO’s Legal Division Manager, asserted that Licoben should have also been endorsed by the NEA Board of Administrators for BENECO’s selection for the GM position as he also passed the final interview. 

Licoben scored 82.75 percent while Rafael-Banaag obtained a score of 94 percent in the final interview, according to NEA Board Resolution No. 2021-47.

Cariño stressed that the decision of the NEA Board of Administrators to endorse only one candidate based on the results of the final interview violated NEA Memorandum No. 2017-35.

“Nowhere in the NEA Memorandum does it state that the applicant with the highest score in the final interview should be the only candidate to be endorsed by NEA to the electric cooperative,” Cariño stated.

On May 19, 2021, the BENECO board in a 6-4 vote rejected the NEA endorsement of Rafael-Banaag and reiterated its previous resolution recommending Licoben for the GM position.

Atty. May Flor Abuedo, NEA’s Corporate Secretary, disclosed that the NEA Board of Administrators will hold a meeting on Thursday, May 27, to deliberate on the BENECO board’s decision to reject the NEA endorsement.

The city legislators likewise requested NEA to provide the city council and BENECO all the necessary documents containing the results of the examinations of the applicants, the background investigation on the applicants, and the interviews conducted by the selection committee and NEA Board of Administrators in aid of legislation. –Jordan G. Habbiling