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Groups file charges vs four ERC commissioners

Various groups filed criminal charges against high-ranking officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly allowing Manila Electric Co. to sign power supply agreements without the benefit of public bidding.

Cause oriented group Sanlakas and Freedom from Debt Coalition filed the charges against ERC commissioners Josefina Magpale-Asirit, Alfredo Non, Gloria Yap-Taruc and Geronimo D. Sta. Ana.

The complaint excluded ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar who is still under mandatory suspension from Malacañang.

“The respondents herein opted to delay the mandatory implementation of the competitive selection process, a power supply procurement methodology, which promotes the welfare of consumers by requiring power supply agreements to be bidded-out, instead of negotiated, by the distribution utilities  and the generation companies,” the groups said in the complaint.

The groups said this caused  “undue injury to the public who now have to suffer higher electricity rates from the disadvantageous PSAs entered into by these DUs and generation companies.”

The complaint said the commissioners adjusted the rules and implementation of the CSP, enabling Meralco to push through with its PSAs without a transparent and public bidding.

The complaints said that as directed by DOE/ERC Res. No. 13, S. 2015, all power requirements of all distribution utilities were to be procured by competitive bidding starting Nov. 7, 2015.

“However, the rules on the CSP were suspiciously adjusted on March 15, 2016, four months after the CSP has already been in place. The ERC issued Res. No. 1, S. 2016, clarifying CSP and re-stating its effectivity date to April 30, 2016. The resolution left the door open for the Meralco to skip the competitive selection process,” said Sanlakas secretary general Aaron Pedrosa, who filed the charges on behalf of the group.

The filing of the complaint followed the submission of petitions for intervention with the ERC  on Meralco’s pending power supply agreement applications.

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, along with Sanlakas, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Koalisyong Pabahay ng Pilipinas and other member organizations of the Power for People organization filed separate petitions questioning the applications.

“The approval of Meralco’s PSAs would lead to 3,551 MW of coal entering the pipeline, which would pose great harm to the people’s health and livelihood, as well as the environment and the climate,” said Ceed convenor Gerry Arances in a statement.

“But on top of this, Filipinos will end up paying more for electricity if Meralco would have their way,” Arances said.

Topics: Energy Regulatory Commission , ERC commissioners , criminal charges , Sanlakas , Freedom from Debt Coalition , Manila Electric Co.
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