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  • By : Delmar O. CariƱo
  • Jun 02, 2020

THE RECLOSER By Delmar O. Carino

Changing of the guards

Engr. Melchor Licoben suddenly found his hands full when the reign of GM Gerardo Verzosa was suddenly aborted by nine months early due to a medical condition, no thanks to the pandemic that confined him further to the barracks.

Verzosa, 64, was to bid goodbye on January 24, 2021. But he had to resign effective April 30, 2020. We surmise it was due to doctor's advice lest his blood pressure continue to spike by resuming work until he reaches 65. The page now turned to Licoben, who at 52, promises the exuberance of youth.

As assistant general manager, Licoben, an electrical engineering graduate of Saint Louis University, was groomed to succeed the indomitable GM Verzosa, the pride of Gattaran, Cagayan. The Recloser could only guess that he was excited, although subdued, and awed but undaunted.

By tradition of communication in BENECO, Licoben was known as Sir MSL. Now, he is Sir GM. The leap though to the helm of the electric cooperative is no cheap shot. As successor, Sir MSL would have to equal if not surpass what his predecessor has done. He also has to keep afloat the reputation BENECO has been known for and to keep the fire burning for directions the electric cooperative has been passionate about.

The timing of Sir MSL's ascension could not have been more taxing. He came on board on May 1, 2020 but before that, he was already calling the shots two months earlier when GM Verzosa had to refrain from going to the office to attend to his therapy. The pandemic that pushed the EC to the edge became his baptism of fire. An ordinary mortal would have succumbed since sales are plummeting and meter reading has been stopped. We had dues falling due and the DOE,ERC and PHILRECA were also issuing various memoranda left and right which the ECs must have to comply with.

But the new GM remained cool. He unleashed the whip to compel all offices to work overtime and solicited inputs on how to manage the books in light of the EC's dwindling cash inflow. He marshalled the officers to triple their efforts and to accomplish their chores with dispatch.

Good that he also approved the payment of the salary of regular employees during the ECQ despite not all reporting for work on an 8 am to 5 pm basis from March 16, 2020 until May 29,,2020. He too unrelentingly pressed the finance department to keep a close tab at the coffers of the EC to avoid missing out on urgent and crucial payables. He did right smack the head when he required Engr. Olive Bete, the executive services officer, to come up with simulations on the impact of the Covid 19 on the cash flow of the EC, obviously to avoid a staggering downfall of the cash register at the end of the day.

What the ECQ hurled as a challenge for the ECs is the need to come up with a business continuity plan or risk management assessment. The new GM really put his foot down on this business plan and had all departments to toe the submission thereof.

The new GM's initial strides are just a bird's eye view of his management and leadership thrusts. One good cap is that he rose from the ranks. He knows how the EC runs its daily business. Being an electrical engineer himself, he has a full grasp of the technical aspect of running the EC. He is sensitive to the financial standing of the EC and is well aware of the target to organize MCOs. Sir MSL is still an OIC, alright, owing to the stringent requirements of the NEA for one to become a full blown GM. But the recruitment process is a par for the course. What matters is the stuff Sir MSL could inject to the EC. His track record as engineer, department manager of the non-network and revenue services department and the network services department has honed his managerial skills. His stint as AGM has further loaded his grip. The least we expect is for any critic to derail the well tested convergence of the employees and the new GM in a bid to hurdle new heights for the EC.

In short, Sir MSL barely warmed his seat when he had to plunge himself into a sea of hard work. He did not have the luxury for a honeymoon period since electricity must be made available continuously or face a tempest should power be interrupted without due cause and due notice.

We are confident though that Sir MSL can hold. He has our back. And we guarantee him of our unconditional support. We are not asking him to be another Verzosa. Let him come full squares with his own cargo. Of course, he knows he has a big shoe to fill. But he should not be intimidated. Rather, he has to unfold his own game plan and keep the gears moving.

"Uncle, kayang kayam dayta."