DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi and NEA Administrator Emmanuel Juaneza obviously do not know where their mouths should be when talking about the BENECO controversy.
Cusi appeared on Karen Davila’s Headstart on ANC last Oct. 20, 2021 and speculated on his facts. Juaneza appeared before the Senate on Oct. 22 to defend NEA’s budget and he, too, committed his own boo boo. Both faltered as they fielded the questions inaccurately. For Cusi, he just interspersed his facts as they came to him while Juaneza muttered facts that were farthest from the truth.
Cusi is far more in the red. Twice, he mentioned that the late GM Verzosa committed suicide and that’s why there was a need to hire a new GM. That’s not how it was. GM Verzosa was on medical leave on the last day he was supposed to report for work and that was on April 30, 2020. He died on Sept. 16, 2020. The way Cusi arranged his facts distorted the accurate sequence of events. What stinks is his innuendo that GM Verzosa took his life due to the problems that haunted BENECO. That’s unfair.
This is why the family of GM Verzosa are up in arms. That’s why if Sec. Cusi wil not make amends, Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga, Verzosa’s brother in law, will surely hale him to court.
His statements about BENECO also riled us. Cusi said: ”Marami tayong naririnig na problema kaya minarapat namin na magkaroon nga bagong GM.“ This corner asks: Are these problems so gargantuan enough to merit a change of chairs? In the first place, Cusi was unsure of himself. ”Let the new GM assume and tignan po yung truthfulness of the reports,“ he said, referring to alleged abuses in BENECO which he admitted were the subject of an audit by NEA.
Asked why the employees rejected any change of leadership, the secretary said he can only speculate as to the reasons why. This means that Cusi does not have the facts. The NEA has conducted an audit of BENECO for the periods 2014-2017 and 2018-2020. Both result audits are now the subject of a motu propio investigation by the NEA Administrative Committee. The cases are still ongoing and the respondents are entitled to due process. And yet the DOE boss said it was but proper to name a new GM at this time.
Even to the extent of breaching the rules on GM selection, Mr. Secretary? Remember that the position involved is not a government position. Electric cooperatives are incorporated. This means ECs are private in character and the DOE and the NEA have no business insisting that they can name the GM.
NEA Administrator Juaneza is not far behind.
Twice he said that there was a published vacancy for the GM in BENECO that’s why the former PCOO Asst. Secretary applied. There was no such publication, sir. The BENECO Board of Directors did not publish any vacancy since the board already chose and named Engr. Licoben as the GM ”effective upon the retirement of GM Verzosa.“
Was the move proper? Definitely. NEA Memorandum NO. 2017-035 says it so. The rule is should the BOD decide to name a Department Manager (in the case of BENECO, an Assistant General Manager), there is no need to publish a vacancy. What needs to be published is the decision of the BOD to choose an EC officer and the name of the chosen one with a prayer for the public to submit any document or communication why the chosen one should not be the GM. BENECO did publish as such. Simply put, there was no vacancy that required publication.
Sec. Cusi and NEA Admin Juaneza chorused that the Malacanang applicant was chosen by NEA since she hurdled the selection process. Juaneza said there was no prohibition for the NEA BOA to endorse to the BENECO board only the candidate with the highest score in the final interview. He added that the NEA BOA’s decision was sustained by the OGCC.
But such move was precisely the reason why the BENECO board had to retaliate by rejecting the lone endorsement and reiterating its April, 2020 appointment of Engr. Licoben as the GM. The board said the NEA BOA assumed the board’s power to name the GM.
But the NEA BOA knew there was a trap in the rules for GM selection – that if the board’s reasons for the rejection of the endorsed GM are unreasonable, the NEA BOA can exercise the power to name the GM. True enough, the NEA BOA rejected the reasons of rejection cited by the BENECO board of the lone endorsee. The NEA BOA said the board’s reasons were unreasonable.
But the reasons of rejection were reasonable. I can assure you that. But the NEA BOA got blindsided. She will be the GM, it said. But the board, employees and the MCOs knew they were short changed.
This is why October 20, 2021 happened.