BENGUET Electric Cooperative (Beneco) decried the suspension of its directors and some officials for alleged mismanagement as ordered by National Electrification Administration (NEA), prompting the power distributor to file a motion for reconsideration, its lawyer said.

“We have filed a motion for reconsideration on the basis of the suspension and the penalty being too harsh on Dec. 29,” Delmar O. Cariño, Beneco’s legal counsel, told Businessworld through a text message on Sunday.

His comment comes after NEA, which supervises electric cooperatives (ECs), announced on Dec. 31 its decision to suspend Beneco’s board of directors and other officials for 90 days for what it claims to be transactions “averse to good management.”

It said audit findings from June 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2017 prompted the administrative penalties of suspension, as well as an order for the officials to “return the excess amounts they earlier received in violation of NEA policies and guidelines.”

In its media release, the administrator of the country’s rural electrification said, “The electric cooperative Board and Management’s response failed to justify some of the audit observations especially on the excessive benefits and allowances they extended to themselves. The respondents filed a joint answer, denying liability on the audit findings.”

NEA said its decision was rendered on Dec. 9, 2021, and that the notice of decision was personally service at the Beneco office on Dec. 23.

“Copies were also served via electronic mail to the Internal Auditor and the Institutional Services Manager who were among those suspended, as well as on the Administrative Officer of the EC,” it said.

NEA said Beneco officials granted benefits such as information dissemination allowance, gasoline allowance, token of appreciation to two outgoing board of directors, 13th month pay, grocery allowance, representation allowance, insurance allowance, rainwear allowance, and Christmas bonus, without NEA approval.

“For each of these, we found the respondents liable for willful violation or non-compliance of NEA issuances. They are meted the penalty of suspension for a period of 90 days. They are consequently ordered to return the computed excess funds they have granted to themselves,” NEA’s board of administrators said. — Marielle C. Lucenio