Two issuances by the National Electrification Administration – NEA Memo 2021-055 and NEA Memo 2021-056 – were declared null and void in a decision penned by Judge Efren M. Cacatian on June 13, 2022.
NEA Memo 2021-055 deals with the revised policy on the selection, hiring, termination of service/suspension for general managers of electric cooperative (4th revision), while NEA Memo 2021-056 is on revised policy guidelines on the conduct of examination and interview for applicants to the position of general managers of electric cooperatives.
Isabela Electric Cooperative Inc. (ISELCO 1), through its Board President, the Honorable Presley C. De Jesus, alleged that NEA and its Board of Administrators committed “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of and in excess of their jurisdiction” when they arrogated unto itself the power to select, hire, and appoint a general manager of an electric cooperative through the aforementioned NEA memoranda.
“NEA did it again! The Committee on Energy of the House of Representatives found during a series of hearings that NEA is not empowered under the law to appoint a general manager because such power belongs to the electric cooperatives through their Board of Directors,” explained De Jesus, who also presided the hearings of the Committee on the said issue.
The legislator further added that the findings of the Committee on Energy was even ratified by the entire House of Representatives with no opposition nor abstention. The resulting legislative measure, House Resolution 213, directs the NEA to comply with the provisions of Memorandum No. 2017-035, which established that the authority to appoint general managers lies with the EC Board of Directors.
The court holds the same belief that NEA-BOA has no such power under the law. “Indeed, nowhere in Section 4 of PD 269 and its amendments under RA 10531 expressly provides for [such power]. On the contrary, NEA has the supervisory powers only over ECs… The law speaks of supervisory and disciplinary powers over EC and its Board of Directors; no more, no less,” the court decision expounded.
“Thus, in issuing Memorandum Nos. 2021-055 and 2021-056, NEA-BOA has exercised not its supervisory and disciplinary powers but control over ECs, clearly, beyond its authority, hence, ultra vires,” the court decision added. Finally, the court has concluded that “NEA and its Board of Administrators committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing Memorandum No. 2021-055 and Memorandum No. 2021-056, hence, both issuances are null and void.”