Over coffee at Baguio Café, a small diner along km. 4 in La Trinidad, Sir Gerry could not hide his disappointment. After I briefed him about current events in BENECO, he drew a deep sigh and said “what happened?”
He felt sad that three employees went over to the other side. And all the more that he got frustrated when I told him that one of them was his trusted lieutenant, the beer bellied veteran he often sent to trouble shoot or negotiate matters for BENECO when the going gets tough.
He told me: “Doc, the reason why I insisted on the creation of a position for AGM is to provide a path for succession for whoever will succeed me. I then chose Mel because he knows the tricks of the business. He is an electrical engineer and among you department managers, he was the most qualified and competent.”
I couldn‘t agree more.
GPV continued: “When the BOD named him as OIC GM when I went on medical leave, I believed that it was just a matter of time for Mel to take over the helm. And when I finally signified that my last working day was April 30, 2020, I knew Mel could easily fit into my shoes. I was confident to leave since I knew the EC will be left in trusted hands – from the employees and supervisors to the department managers and the BOD.”
Told that it was the NEA BOA that started the ruckus, he became agitated. “Itong NEA talaga, palpak,” he said. “I guess I should go to the NEA BOA and give them my piece of mind,” he said.
Knowing the stuff GPV was made of, the NEA BOA would surely shrink if they will engage GPV in a heated discussion.
“Dapat bilang abogado ng BENECO, pag-aralan mo na kung pano tayo hihiwalay sa NEA na yan,” he advised me.
Then we talked about the 7-4 division of the Board of Directors. “That should not be the case,” he said. “I thought that when the directors unanimously named Mel as GM in April, 2020, the said decision will stick, come hell or water,” he said.
“One cannot simply come in and dip her fingers into the business of electric distribution. The industry is highly technical, capital intensive and institutionally demanding,” he stressed.
GPV sensed politics as the flip side of all this. The NEA BOA‘s insistence that Mel‘s rival will be named as GM smacks of undue interference into the affairs of the ECs that all ECs must guard against.
Sir Gerry got amused when I said that my own beef against the NEA BOA was how it understood the word “shall.” “How is that?” Sir Gerry asked.
I got passionate: “Kasi sir, NEA Memorandum No. 2017-035 says “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. NEA Memorandum No. 2018-004 also says “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.”
Obviously, the NEA BOA had the wrong kind of dictionary.
“The NEA BOA obviously underestimated the caliber of BENECO employees,” he said. I agreed. I shared that the NEA administrators perhaps thought that we would just kowtow and simply allow Mel to be unseated just like that.
“I feel great that the employees are solid rock on this case. How I wish I could join your barricade to deliver the message to them that they should bring their acts elsewhere and not in BENECO,” Sir Gerry said.
He said: “You continue the fight. You are on the side of law and reason”
Sir Gerry also took his hats off for the BELU and BSA for doing their part. “Yan ang BELU at BSA, lumalaban.” He said he has heard about the war on social media but he just can‘t get into the groove of it. “Alam mo namam, hindi ako techie,” he sheepishly said.
Then my mobile phone‘s alarm rang. It was 5 AM.