Solons call on four ERC executives to quit; House mulls over charges

Lawmakers on Monday urged four commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission to resign after the Ombudsman ordered them suspended for tolerating the misuse by the Manila Electric Co. of bill deposits of its customers.

“Maybe it is time they resign,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said of Commissioners Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpala-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana.

Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said his committee has completed its investigation in aid of legislation into the seven alleged “sweetheart” power supply agreements (PSAs) being sought by Meralco-linked generation companies at the ERC involving the four commissioners.

“We have also completed our committee report and we have recommended [the] further investigation of ERC commissioners and if there is substantial evidence, to file the necessary cases,” Pimentel added.

Reps. Teddy Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao and Sherwin Tugna of Cibac Party-list echoed Pimentel’s call for the four ERC commissioners to quit due to their alleged incompetence and neglect of duty.

“Isn’t the best scenario either for them to just resign or for the President [Rodrigo Duterte] to fire them?” Baguilat said.

Baguilat said it is best for the ERC commissioners to resign since they will no longer be able to perform their jobs when they are suspended.

Tugna, for his part, commended the Ombudsman’s latest action against the ERC commissioners.

“That is a welcome decision in the fight against mis-governance. We in Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption [CIBAC] Party-List, support the decision,” said Tugna, chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms.

The Ombudsman ordered the four suspended for the second time for alleged failure to properly implement rules governing bill deposits as “mere guarantee in payment of bills.”

The four ERC commissioners allegedly tolerated the misuse of bill deposits by allowing its commingling with the capital or operation cost of Meralco. 

In December, the Ombudsman ordered a year-long suspension without pay against the four ERC commissioners for allowing power utilities like the Meralco to skirt the required bidding process for energy agreements filed at the ERC.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, meanwhile, said the decision of the Ombudsman reinforced the perception that the ERC commissioners were colluding with Meralco to the disadvantage of consumers.

Topics: Energy Regulatory Commission , Ombudsman , Manila Electric Co. , Rep. Johnny Pimentel
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