Beneco willing to discuss service connection issues

THE Benguet Electric Cooperative management on Thursday expressed its willingness to sit down with the City Government of Baguio, Baguio Regreening Movement, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Philippine Military Academy to address issues on electrical connections of alleged illegal settlers and small scale miners.

This after the BRM, PMA and MGB wrote Beneco asking the power distributor not to energize these alleged illegal structures citing encroachment.

"We are willing to sit down with the concerned agencies perhaps to come up with a protocol to enable Beneco to help them with their concerns," Human Resources head and legal counsel Delmar Cariño said Thursday.

"[However], it is not within the jurisdiction of Beneco to investigate whether or not these structures within our watersheds and PMA are legal," he said.

"The mandate of an electric cooperative is to supply current if an applicant is able to present a Certificate of Final Electrical Inspection. The application for a service connection is integral in the application of a building permit. And according to the National Building Code, it is the local government unit which issues this," Cariño added.

Upon completion of the structure, the LGU then issues a Certificate of Completion together with the CFEI.

"When the LGU issues the CFEI, it only means Beneco may now safely give electricity to that structure. According to the Magna Carta 'a residential consumer is entitled to service connection provided he complies with the requirement of the LGU and the distribution utility'," he said.

Requirements of Beneco include payment of membership fee, pre-membership education seminar and the CFEI.

"It then becomes ministerial on the part of Beneco to provide the service connection. It is not within our powers to ask whether the house or structure is within a watershed or military reservation," the lawyer stressed, adding Beneco deems this as a responsibility of the LGU.

He, however, clarified whenever there is a disputed application Beneco defers the processing of the service connection and advises the protesting party to resolve the issue with the applicant.

And the lawyer did not discount illegal small scale mining operations saying Beneco immediately disconnects the electricity of these structures when found.

Mounting concern for illegal structures within forest reserves and watersheds has driven the City Government on an all out war against informal settlers.

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