Issue of September 19, 2021
Mt. Province

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Sobriety called on BENECO GM crisis
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

A CALL FOR SOBRIETY -- The camp of Atty. Ana Maria Rafael, who was appointed general manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative by the National Electrification Administration-Board of Administrators through retired city chief prosecutor Elmer Sagsago call for sobriety and let the Court of Appeals decide on the petition filed against the former. Meanwhile, it is business as usual at Beneco, as Engr. Melchor Licoben, who was appointed general manager by the Beneco Board of Directors, also continue to perform his tasks. -- Harley Palangchao

The camp of Atty. Ana Maria Rafael, who was appointed by the National Electrification Administration-Board of Administrators as general manager of Benguet Electric Cooperative, has called on concerned parties to let the proper court decide on the issues surrounding her appointment.

Rafael and her legal team made the call as she reiterated she is the legitimate general manager and continues to discharge her duties, while the camp of Engr. Melchor Licoben, who was appointed by the Beneco Board of Directors, remains firm on being the ge-neral manager and is attending to Beneco business as usual.

Rafael said the issue has already polarized the member-consumers resulting in misunderstanding and exchange of arguments among individuals and groups over the social media.

Supporters of Licoben and Rafael continue to engage in debates in social media. Some of them came to the point of allegedly red-tagging individuals and making unsavory remarks and accusations that are no longer related to the issue.

One meme also called the attention of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong which made it appear he is supporting Rafael when he visited her and Licoben separately recently to ensure Beneco services will not be affected by the ongoing issue.

The mayor said the posted meme “is a product of malicious and distasteful mind and it speaks of the character of the people who allowed or condoned its circulation.”

He instead reiterated his support to Licoben.

Rafael admitted she has relatives who have different ideologies but while she respects them and that of others’ beliefs, she cannot control the minds of the supporters especially those posting in social media, and what she can only do is ask them not to make the matter worse.

Parallel to the latest focus of Beneco, Rafael said she is currently going around Baguio and Benguet explaining to member-consumers the intention of the cooperative to register with the Cooperative Development Authority and the benefits of being CDA-registered.

Rafael said she is doing the campaigning herself without asking employees for them not to be left answerable to the other camp and create an issue if they follow her orders.

For more than a week now, Rafael’s team is using the Dumol Hall without electricity. They also caused the removal of a CCTV surveillance camera, which they claimed was installed without their know-ledge and consent allegedly to monitor them, which her lawyers claimed is tantamount to wiretapping.

Beneco management, however, said the CCTV surveillance camera was installed in 2017.

Former chief city prosecutor Elmer Sagsago appealed to the public not to magnify the issue and leave it to the Court of Appeals, where the case is pending, to resolve the conflict, as ruled by the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 that recently denied a petition for a temporary restraining order or status quo ante order by the Beneco Employees Union and Beneco Supervisors Association against Rafael and Licoben.

He called for sobriety and advised against committing actions that violate the law, ethics, and morals just to satisfy one’s causes.

“We are just creating more divisiveness instead of trying to be more peaceful. We are already dividing and agitating people so that they will hate. We are not supposed to do that. If you have conscience, analyze if what you are doing is proper, ask if it is in accordance with law, ethical, or moral. If not then don’t do it. What satisfaction would you get if pinag-aaway ‘nyo ang mga supporters of the two camps. So, let’s be more sober and civilized,” Sagsago said.

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