MANILA -- Following a consultative meeting called by the Senate Committees on Energy and on Cooperatives chaired by Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Juan Miguel Zubiri, respectively, on Tuesday, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Buseco) reached a "win-win" solution to settle the current dispute between the agency and the power distribution utility.
NEA officials led by Administrator Edgardo Masongsong and members of the Buseco Board of Directors (BOD) led by Fr. Danilo Paciente were present during the meeting at the Senate.
The dispute between NEA and Buseco started when the agency issued last May an office order designating an Acting General Manager (AGM) and Project Supervisor to temporarily oversee the management of Buseco due to internal conflict among its members, allegations of irregularities, and to ensure its continued operational and financial viability.
"We've come up with a win-win solution after discussions among the main parties," Zubiri announced.
Zubiri, who hails from Bukidnon, said they had agreed to appoint Dr. Regin Mordeno as an AGM of Buseco for a month, and to conduct a comprehensive audit of the books of the cooperative without pre-conditions.
Mordeno was the former Board of Directors president of the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Fibeco).
Both parties also agreed that there should be a publication to fill up the vacant position of a General Manager and withdrawal of all cases filed against both parties before the Office of the Ombudsman and other courts.
Moreover, Buseco and NEA committed to refrain from any activities that would sow misinformation and disinformation and to reinstate all dismissed coop employees, as well as the Board members, who are under preventive suspension.
In addition, both parties agreed to mend the strained relationships. "We will start the healing process now because we believe that there were strained relationships," Masongsong said.
And to show his sincerity, the administrator invited the Board directors, including the Buseco management, to come and visit the NEA "because NEA will not be NEA without the electric cooperatives.”
After saying this in a conciliatory tone, the NEA chief stood up and approached Buseco officials to shake their hands and reassure them of the agency’s commitment to warm the relationship between the regulator and the distribution utility.
For his part, Zubiri expressed his appreciation to Masongsong for his goodwill. "We thank him for being open to our win-win solution," he said. "I appreciate the number 7 point of the administrator that the healing process should start.”
Senators Gatchalian and Zubiri both said the process of hiring a general manager should be respected.
"But eventually, from all the names that will be submitted, we can appeal that the one that is appointed is acceptable to all," Zubiri said.
"May process ang hiring ng GM... Whatever the existing process is, 'yon na lang ang sundan natin kasi kung hindi magkakaproblema tayo sa ibang kooperatiba," Gatchalian said.
NEA and Buseco, together with the Senate Committees on Energy and on Cooperatives, will meet again after one month to discuss the findings of the audit and assess the status of the commitments agreed upon by both parties. (PR)