NEWS: Terminated Daneco deputy GM reinstated, but legal counsel says need to TRO

By Cha Monforte, Rural Urban News

feb 11 

The deputy general manager of Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative who was terminated in 2008 for alleged wrongdoings is now back working on his same position since last Friday after winning in a labor case that dragged for over two years.

“I’m back on the basis of a court order, back to my former position built-in the plantilla of positions approved by the National Electrification Administration,” said Engr. Felix Hibionada, who received from Daneco more than P1 million representing his back wages reckoned since April 2008 including legal and attorney’s fees.

Hibionada said, in an interview yesterday at Daneco-Tagum office, that he was “illegally terminated” by late general manager Edgar Savellano in April 2008 after he was re-assigned for long “from a deputy GM to a section head” in faraway Samal Island on allegations that he “stole wooden crates of transformers that could be used as firewood” and on the charge that “he was caught on drinking sprees during working time”.

On the latter accusation, he admitted that there was a “birthday, an occasion that he attended” but denied he was “on drinking spree”. “Wala ko nagainom, nagkataon lang to”.  

“I was also suspected to be one who instigated underground movement of Daneco employees to fight excesses and to file administrative case against Savellano,” he added.

He said all the charges against him were “purely malicious accusations” and that he was vindicated by the court’s writ of execution reinstating him last week. 

Earlier, six of the eleven members of Daneco board of directors (BOD) voted not to seek for the second time a temporary restraining order (TRO) to the Court of Appeals following the court’s denial of an earlier TRO filed by Daneco and the reversal of the National Labor Relations Commission’s reversal of a labor arbiter’s ruling that originally confirmed Hibionada’s termination.

Currently, Daneco’s BOD is locked in a struggle on the issue of replacing OIC general manager Allan Laniba with its latest showing of hairline votes favoring Hibionada’s reinstatement, which was opposed by pro-Laniba directors.  

In separate interview, Daneco legal counsel Jess Albacite said there was a need to seek TRO as there was a “greater winning chance” that Daneco would eventually win in the case against Hibionada and would not waste its money spending for his back wages claims.

“We should have a restraining order of the settlement until the Court of Appeals ruled out the finality of this case. We should not give-up the fight and have the coop pay a million of pesos to him. Any member-consumer could complain against us if we simply concede this and whatsoever will happen, it is going to be the board, who will pay the amount for this,” Atty. Albacite said.

But directors including board president Dean Briz who have opposing the current management turned the table citing that the other outcome might make Daneco lose more and inevitably pay Hibionada at greater legal costs under the burden of the power cooperative. 

Voting to reinstate Hibionada were directors Briz, Ananias Darjan Jr, Roman Calicdan, Samuel Lacierda, Jr., Miguel Fermil and Brendo P. Ceniza.

Voting in negative were directors Dr. Antonio Sebumpan Eugenio Ramonida, Engr. Dan Gervacio, retired Col. Dominador Cruda and Orlando Bugas.

Meanwhile, Daneco Tagum employees interviewed yesterday hailed Laniba for topping as number 1 in the emotional quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ) tests made by the NEA to almost 600 applicants to general manager positions in various electric cooperatives throughout the country.  (Cha Monforte/Rural Urban News)


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