Press Release
October 28, 2021

De Lima seeks inquiry into NEA's mandate after BENECO fiasco

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima underscored the need to review the mandate of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to prevent a repeat of the recent leadership squabble involving the government-owned corporation and the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO).

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 937 seeking to ensure that it provides sufficient safeguards against abuses that run contrary to the spirit of the Philippine Cooperative Code.

"Nariyan ang NEA para maging katuwang ng mga kooperatiba tulad ng BENECO, hindi para maging hadlang sa mahusay at episyenteng serbisyo nito. Lalo na sa panahon ng krisis, hindi pansariling interes at pagluklok sa poder, kundi pasya at ikabubuti ng serbisyo sa mas nakakarami ang dapat igalang ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno," she said a separate statement.

"With the uproar that this incident has caused, there is a clear need to determine whether the NEA's takeover was valid and legal under our relevant laws."

"NEA's mandate should be reviewed to ascertain whether it exceeded its authority in taking over BENECO in spite of the absence of any indication that the latter is an ailing cooperative," she added.

Notably, Chapter I, Article 2 of Republic Act No. 6938, as amended by Republic Act No. 9520, or the "Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008", declares, in part, that the State shall "foster the creation and growth of cooperatives as a practical vehicle for promoting self-reliance and harnessing people power towards the attainment of economic development and social justice."

Last Oct. 18, NEA officials and appointees, as led by lawyer Omar Mayo, a NEA-appointed caretaker, staged a pre-dawn takeover of BENECO's headquarters.

Just a few days after, last Oct. 20, employees and member-consumer-owners (MCOs) took back the BENECO headquarters prompting staff of NEA-appointed general manager and lawyer Ana Maria Rafael to leave the BENECO compound.

Mayo, for his part, was later declared persona non grata by the Baguio City Council for leading the forceful takeover of the utility serving Baguio and Benguet province.

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