Pres­i­dent seen as ap­pro­pri­ate author­ity to set­tle ERC in­fight­ing

Business World - - THE ECONOMY - Victor V. Saulon

THE PRES­I­DENT is the proper author­ity to put a halt to in­fight­ing at the En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ERC), the head of the Se­nate en­ergy com­mit­tee said, point­ing to the Pres­i­dent’s power to ap­point the agency’s off icials.

“The ap­point­ing author­ity is Mala­cañang. We have to go back to the ap­point­ing author­ity and they have the power to do it,” Se­na­tor Sher­win T. Gatchalian, chair­man of the Se­nate com­mit­tee on en­ergy, told re­porters on the side­lines of a sem­i­nar on en­ergy is­sues on Thurs­day in Laoag, Ilo­cos Norte.

“What­ever the facts are, then that would be the ba­sis for what­ever de­ci­sion Mala­cañang will make,” he said.

Mr. Gatchalian said his com­mit­tee was also “closely mon­i­tor­ing” what is tran­spir­ing at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of graft af­ter an ERC di­rec­tor took his own life last year and left be­hind notes claim­ing cor­rup­tion in agency’s bids and awards.

“I am in close con­tact with our con­gres­sional coun­ter­parts. They were first to look into the mat­ter, so we will mon­i­tor them very closely,” he said.

“My guid­ing prin­ci­ple is what’s good for con­sumers,” he added.

His made his com­ments af­ter the Depart­ment of En­ergy ( DoE) on Wed­nes­day said a meet­ing had been held be­tween the ERC com­mis­sion­ers and the En­ergy sec­re­tary on Tues­day “to ad­dress the con­cerns of the pub­lic and the elec­tric­ity in­dus­try sec­tor.”

“I don’t know how you’ll do it but you have to do it,” the DoE ear­lier said in a state­ment, quot­ing Sec­re­tary Al­fonso G. Cusi. It re­ferred to the is­sues sur­round­ing ERC as “in­ter­nal squab­bles.” Mr. Gatchalian de­scribed it as “per­sonal dif­fer­ences.”

The con­flict is re­port­edly be­tween ERC Chair­man and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Jose Vi­cente B. Salazar and the four com­mis­sion­ers: Al­fredo J. Non, Glo­ria Vic­to­ria C. Yap-Taruc, Jose­fina Pa­tri­cia A. Mag­pale-Asirit and Geron­imo D. Sta. Ana.

The DoE said the com­mis­sion­ers sub­mit­ted to Mr. Cusi a re­port, which the depart­ment was study­ing. It also said that in pre­vi­ous meet­ings with the com­mis­sion­ers, he asked the ERC chair­man to en­sure that the ERC is work­ing.

“The DoE re­spects the ERC as a strong and in­de­pen­dent in­sti­tu­tion. How­ever, pub­lic in­ter­est comes first,” Mr. Cusi said in the tersely writ­ten DoE state­ment. —

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