President Rodrigo Duterte was ready to replace the four suspended commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission as early as last year, but his hands were tied by the Court of Appeals’ temporary restraining order, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.
He said Duterte had already chosen the replacements for the four to avoid paralyzing the ERC.
Lawmakers on Monday had urged the four commissioners to resign after the Ombudsman ordered them suspended for tolerating the misuse by Manila Electric Co. of the bill deposits of its customers.
“Maybe it is time they resigned,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said, referring to 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 had completed its investigation in aid of legislation into the seven alleged “sweetheart” power supply agreements being sought by the 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 the ERC commissioners if there is substantial evidence to file the necessary cases,” Pimentel said.
Roque said the Judiciary was an “independent branch of the government” in explaining why Duterte had refused to meddle in the case.
The Ombudsman issued a new suspension order against the four commissioners that was made public on June 17, and in response to the Court of Appeals’ three-month TRO on the suspension order on Feb. 9 this year.
“Let’s see what the Court of Appeals will do,” Roque said in response to the petition of the four commissioners against the new suspension order.