NEA denies FICELCO board’s request for GM Zafe’s two-year term extension

Citing existing policy, the National Electrification Administration has disapproved the request of the Board of Directors of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) to a two-year term extension for General Manager Engr. Raul Zafe.

In a letter sent to BOD President Dir. Jonathan Valles, NEA Administrator Emmanuel Juaneza stated that a review of the submitted Minutes of the 43rd Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) of FICELCO showed no indication that the member-consumer-owners (MCOs) present were “sufficiently informed” of the NEA Memorandum No. 2018-03 on the “Revised Retirement Plan for General Managers of Electric Cooperatives” that provides that the compulsory retirement age of a general manager is at 65 years old.

“Records will show that on 11 November 2023 GM Zafe will turn sixty-five (65) years old, therefore on that day he will reach compulsory retirement age of a general manager. Item III, C of the NEA Memorandum No. 2018-003 provides that ‘Upon retirement (Optional or Compulsory), no request for extension of service shall be allowed,” Administrator Juaneza stressed.

The NEA apparently erred as to the birth date of GM Zafe, who according to a ranking FICELCO official was actually born on December 11, 1957 based on his records at the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The source told the Tribune that when Zafe was first employed at FICELCO, he used 1958 as his birth year.

But when he retired from the National Power Corporation prior to his appointment as FICELCO general manager, Zafe reportedly used 1957 as his birth year based on the PSA birth certificate.

Thus, the GM is supposed to retire from his post this Dec. 11, the official said.

GM Zafe has already written NEA regarding the birth year error based on the data he submitted when he first worked for FICELCO.

In its Nov. 28 meeting, the BOD reportedly agreed to designate Technical Services Department manager Engr. Francis Gianan as the officer-in-charge after Zafe retires and pending the selection and appointment of a new GM.

The source said aside from the unanimous support received from the directors,  Gianan is the most senior and technically knowledgeable among the department managers.

Last Monday, the board was set to sign the resolution regarding the OIC designation.

In fact, it was claimed, GM Zafe already said his goodbyes to his fellow GMs during the Dec. 1 meeting of the Bicol Electric Cooperatives Association (BECA) in Legazpi City.

The board, it is said, will be traveling to Manila to pay a courtesy call on the newly-appointed NEA administrator, Antonio Mariano Almeda.

It may be recalled that during the Sept. 3, 2022 AGMA held at the Virac town plaza, former director Jorge Tabirara moved to approve a resolution requesting the NEA to extend the term of GM Zafe for two years more.

Subsequently, the new set of FICELCO board of directors passed a similar measure on the same day.

“The basis for employees’ request to (sic) the extension of the services of the General Manager is anchored that (sic) Engr. Raul V. Zafe delivered clearly the trust and mandate of the cooperative on the following aspects resulting thje categorization as AAA by NEA in 2021 EC Overall Performance Assessment, to wit: a. Reliable Distribution System and Dependable Power Supply; b. Sound Financial Mechanism; and c. Strengthening Institutional Programs for MCO and FICELCO Workforce Empowerment,” the board said.

It added that the two-year term extension will give GM Zafe the chance and opportunity to pursue programs and projects for the benefit of the cooperative, particularly the members-consumers such as the implementation of Camarines Sur-Catanduanes Interconnection Project, recovery of the Balongbong Mini-Hydro Power Plant formerly owned by the cooperative, the franchise renewal of FICELCO and the full implementation of the 2018 NEA Salary Scale.

The BOD request was endorsed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a resolution passed unanimously during its 19th regular session on Nov. 7, 2022.

The SP resolution said that records show that the supervisory and rank-and-file employees of FICELCO both requested the BOD the approval of Zafe extension of service as GM.

The general manager’s son was recently elected president of the FICELCO Employees Union while Zafe’s brother, Dr. Santos Zafe, is a member of the provincial board.

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