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Monday, April 15, 2024

A thankless job

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“This case is proof of the thankless nature of the job of electricity regulation”

The lawyer Paris Real’s recent reported complaint with the Ombudsman against former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Commissioner Alfredo J. Non for alleged gross inexcusable negligence is baseless and bereft of factual and legal bases.

It is obviously a retaliation for Non’s post-retirement participation as intervenor in the Meralco cases now pending before the commission.

Real, representing Meralco consumers and an intervenor in various cases involving the power distribution firm, charged Non with violating Republic Act 3019 for allegedly failing to act on the regulatory reset process of Meralco.

While Non has not received a copy of the complaint as of this date, he is confident of the legal and factual defenses why he should not be held liable for such act, and will file seasonably the corresponding responsive pleadings with the Ombudsman.

Non was a Commission Member from 2011 until his retirement in 2018, serving a total three ERC chairpersons — Zenaida Ducut from 2011 until 2015; Jose Salazar from August to September 2015; and Agnes Devanadera from November 2017 – until his retirement in July 2018.

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Non was OIC of ERC only from September to October 2017, or until Devanadera’s appointment.

As OIC when the ERC Chairperson position was vacant due to Salazar’s removal, Non had the limited responsibility to ensure the operations of the Commission continued uninterrupted, despite the political upheavals that affected the position of the ERC Chairperson as well as the ERC as a whole.

This case is proof of the thankless nature of the job of electricity regulation.

Prior to this case, Non and other members of the Commission successfully secured from the Court of Appeals the reversal of a suspension order from the Ombudsman for alleged misconduct in the Competitive Selection Process of Meralco Power Supply contracts.

The CA had ruled the suspension order issued to Non and the other Commission Members was premature, as the Supreme Court was at that time still hearing the legality of the assailed CSP Resolutions.

Despite this new Ombudsman complaint, which may be considered a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation), Non is determined to continue participating in the pending Meralco refund cases and advocate for better rate regulation.

(The author is a retired ERC officer who has worked with Mr. Non for many years).

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