The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA) clarified today that it is not meddling with the decision of the National Electrification Association (NEA) in its endorsement of PCOO Asec. Marie Rafael as the General Manager (GM) of the Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BENECO). We take umbrage on Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s comment that electric cooperatives should respect the process of NEA with regard to the selection and hiring of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives.
“The Association is not meddling with NEA’s process. In fact, we strongly agree with Sec. Roque’s statement that there is indeed a process that should be followed in the hiring and appointment of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives,” clarified Atty. Janeene Depay-Colingan, Executive Director and General Manager of PHILRECA.
“The BOA is supposed to endorse and transmit those who passed the initial screening and final interview to the EC’s Board of Directors. What did the BOA do? They endorsed only one from among the two qualified candidates. Now, was the process followed? Respecting the process does not mean we have to blindly follow what was instructed to us,” she said.
In a joint letter from PHILRECA and NAGMEC sent to the Board of Administrators of NEA dated May 6, 2022, PHILRECA reminded the BOA about NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 entitled ‘Selection, Hiring, Termination of Service and Suspension for General Managers of Electric Cooperatives’ and NEA Memorandum No. 2018-004 entitled ‘Revised Policy Guidelines on the Conduct of Examination and Interview for Applicants of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives”.
This is the guideline that the Board of Administrators should follow”, added Atty. Colingan.
The NEA-approved memorandum provides 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 EC Board for perusal and selection.” Copies of this memoranda are available in NEA’s official website.
However, in a recently passed RB Resolution No. 2021-47, the Board of Administrators of NEA approved a resolution “ENDORSING THE CANDIDATE WITH THE HIGHEST SCORE IN THE FINAL INTERVIEW FOR THE POSITION OF GENERAL MANAGER (GM) OF BENGUET ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC. (BENECO)”.
“The decision of the Board of Administrators of NEA to select and endorse only one of the two qualified candidates is grave abuse of discretion. There is nothing under NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 that explicitly allows the BOA to recommend only one applicant based on the scores of the final BOA interview. Such decision is an unlawful arrogation by the BOA unto itself of the power to decide who should be the GM which by law is vested in the Board of Directors of BENECO,” PHILRECA and NAGMEC’s letter to NEA stated.
“We at PHILRECA and NAGMEC find it alarming that the Board of Administrators themselves failed to follow the policy and guidelines that they themselves drafted and approved. It was clearly stated in the guidelines that the selection of the General Manager is a major responsibility of the Board of Directors of the Electric Cooperatives,” said GM Allan L. Laniba, president of the National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (NAGMEC).
“When the Board of Administrators of NEA decided to select and endorse only one of the two qualified candidates and expected the utility to appoint their endorsement in just a week’s time, they stripped BENECO of its independence and power to select its own general manager – this is a grave abuse of discretion,” added Laniba.
Presley C. De Jesus, President of PHILRECA, clarified that he is not interfering with NEA’s endorsement. However, he said that he is supportive of the appropriate and approved process and this should be strictly followed by the very institution that approved it.
“The Board of Administrators should not intervene in the affairs and mandate of the EC’s Board of Directors. The BOA committed grave abuse of discretion because the NEA Board of Administrators has no power – neither by virtue of RA 10531 nor by any existing regulatory measures – to choose which of the qualified applicants they should endorse to the EC Board of Directors based on any arbitrary preference of the Board of Administrators,” De Jesus emphasized.
PHILRECA and NAGMEC are hoping that the Board of Administrators “will rectify its error and set aside RB Resolution No. 2021-47 to spare itself from a deluge of serious legal actions and unprecedented rant not just from BENECO’s member-consumer-owners but from the entire EC sector who have the same sentiment on this issue.”