A progressive party-list congressman yesterday assailed the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for defying the Office of the Ombudsman’s order suspending its four commissioners over alleged anomalous power supply agreements.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also urged the Office of the Ombudsman to press anew the implementation of their order that stemmed from the four ERC officials’ decision allowing electric utilities like the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to forego the bidding of their power supply requirements at the public’s expense.
Zarate said the Ombudsman order suspending ERC Commissioners Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpala-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana for one year should be implemented.
“We call on the Office of the Ombudsman to strictly enforce its suspension order and not allow this blatant disregard of its authority by these ERC officials.
“It is clear that (these ERC officials) were found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, aggravated by simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty by the Office of the Ombudsman and the said decision should be implemented immediately.
“They committed an offense detrimental to the public and they should be made accountable and not treated as sacred cows," said Zarate in pushing for the implementation of the order.
In a decision dated September 29, 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of the four remaining commissioners for one year as administrative penalty.
The Ombudsman also ordered the filing of a graft case against the commissioners, including the already dismissed former ERC Chairman Vicente Salazar, for allegedly favoring Meralco when the commission extended the November 9, 2015 deadline to April 30, 2016 for the conduct of competitive selection process (CSP) in the procurement of electricity by distribution utilities.
“In fact, with the Ombudsman’s findings, the Office of the President can even dismiss these erring commissioners and appoint new ones who would really look out for the best interest of the consumers,” the solon pointed out.
Zarate viewed as “vain attempt of blackmail” ERC’s claim massive blackouts will occur should the four commissioners follow their suspension.
Zarate said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement that the suspension of all ERC commissioners will lead to the agency’s “paralysis” was supposedly aimed at evading accountability.