A GROUP has filed graft, ethics and administrative charges against Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar before the Office of the Ombudsman over the allegedly questionable contracts he had signed with power distributor Manila Electric Co.
The Alyansa Para sa Bagong Pilipinas, represented by secretary general Aya Jallorina, included Commissioners Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronio Sta. Ana in its complaint.
Jallorina said the Energy officials must be held criminally and administratively liable for their alleged wrongdoings.
“The contracts are onerous and anti-people. ERC is supposed to be protecting consumers as a rate-regulating body. It seems the other way around,” she said.
“It isn’t providing least cost power as mandated by the Epira [Electric Power Industry Reform Act]. It is in fact obviously favoring DUs [distribution utilities]. It is easy to see why.”
The anti-corruption watchdog claims Salazar and the other ERC officials arbitrarily deferred the implementation of the agency’s own rules for competitive selection process, allowing Meralco to secure “seven midnight coal contracts totaling 3,551 megawatts worth $10 billion without benefit of public bidding” last April.
President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to abolish the ERC over allegations of corruption in the agency.
One of its directors, Francisco Villa Jr., committed suicide over the alleged pressure being exerted on him to approve illegal contracts.
Duterte demanded that Salazar and the other officials resign, but they have refused to do so.