red-tagging

Benguet electric coop hits Badoy for red-tagging 

Sherwin de Vera
Benguet electric coop hits Badoy for red-tagging 

FILE PHOTO. Lorraine Badoy

During her radio program on the SMNI news channel, Lorraine Badoy says the Benguet Electric Cooperative has links with the CPP-NPA-NDF

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines —Lorraine Badoy’s red-tagging rampage has not spared even the best-performing electric cooperatives in the country. 

In an October 8 statement, officials and employees of Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) slammed the former Communications Undersecretary for claiming that the cooperative is a “milking cow” of communist rebels. 

Badoy made the statement during an interview with 503rd Infantry Brigade Deputy Commander Colonel Christopher Sab-it in her program on SMNI News Channel. 

“I got information that even BENECO is infiltrated by the CPP-NPA-NDF and it’s like their milking cow. Diyan sila kumukuha ng kanilang pondo (It is where they get financing) to fund terrorism and corruption to maintain a certain lifestyle,” she said. 

She then offered to provide the information to Sab-it. 

“We find the statements malicious. We find her charges a clear case of red tagging. This has endangered our lives as employees and officers of BENECO,” the statement said. 

“The way she purveyed her views obviously manifested her disregard of the rules of fair play in media. Or that she is simply unaware of it or that she is an armchair broadcaster,” BENECO added. 

The signatories denied all allegations and dared Badoy to provide proof of her accusations that “besmirched BENECO’s reputation before its member-consumer-owners (MCOs).” 

For three consecutive years since 2020, the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives awarded BENECO the ‘Ace of Tariff Award’ for having the cheapest rate among electric cooperatives in the country. 

‘Do it under oath’

In a Facebook post, lawyer and former editor of the now-closed Gold Ore newspaper Joel Rodriguez Dizon challenged Badoy to state her allegations against BENECO under oath. 

“Therefore, anyone ‘splashing’ red paint all over an institution or persons belonging to that institution is putting people in danger. Such person must be willing to place herself in danger as well,” he wrote on his timeline. 

“So, I personally hurl this challenge to Lorraine Badoy: REPEAT everything you said red-tagging BENECO and its constituent community. BUT DO IT UNDER OATH,” the lawyer said. 

“If you think you are that brave, do not snipe from the safety of the shadows. Or the fake newsroom,” he added. 

Dizon is among Baguio’s legal community members who regularly write commentaries on the ongoing leadership row besieging BENECO for more than a year. 

During the Duterte administration, the National Electrification Commission appointed lawyer and former Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) official Ana Maria Rafael as BENECO general manager. However, most members of the board chose engineer Melchor Licoben, a long-time employee who rose from the ranks to become assistant general manager before taking the helm of the cooperative. 

On October 18 last year, NEA, with police backing, stormed the BENECO office and installed Rafael. However, their control lasted only three days after thousands of MCOs and employees took back the building and operation on October 21. 

Studying the next step

In a text message on October 10, Licoben said they were “evaluating the options” on whether to file formal complaints against Badoy. He said “it is too early to tell” whether her accusations were related to the struggle for the general manager’s seat. 

Union president Jeffered Monang said incidents of red-tagging “has created fear among the employees,” since it is “tantamount to being watched by the government.” He assured the employees that the union was working with the management to ensure their safety and wellbeing. 

“We know for a fact that we are harmless. We will do what we have to do day in and day out to provide quality service to the MCOs, he added. 

This is not the first time that BENECO encountered red tagging and disinformation. After taking back control of the headquarters, the employees union and vocal supporters of Licoben became the target of red-baiting. 

Even Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who was also red tagged by Badoy, has earlier expressed dismay at the spread of disinformation on the BENECO issue. In September 2021, a manipulated photo made to appear that the mayor was supporting Rafael circulated on social media even though Magalong has on record recognized Licoben as “the most competent Beneco general manager” in an activity. – Rappler.com

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