Manila Bulletin

Solon seeks ERC reforms, probe amid abolition threat


Instead of abolishing the agency, the Duterte administra­tion should find ways to strengthen the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and make it fraud-free and corruption­proof, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said yesterday.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee, said the ERC, considered the Supreme Court of the energy sector, has an important role in protecting the welfare of energy consumers and hence has to be governed with the utmost integrity.

But because of the recent allegation­s of rampant corruption inside the agency, Gatchalian acknowledg­ed that a lot of consumers now question the ERC’s credibilit­y.

President Duterte earlier threatened to abolish the ERC.

“Our job now is to find a way to strengthen the ERC, we have to check and balance within the institutio­n. The end goal is really to protect the consumers,” Gatchalian said.

The Senate Energy Committee will launch its initial inquiry into the alleged irregulari­ties within the ERC in two weeks.

The probe will take into account the allegation­s of anomalous deals entered into by the agency which the late ERC director Francisco Villa, Jr. detailed in his suicide note.

“I don’t think it’s practical to abolish the entire ERC, there are a lot of pending items that has to be approved by the ERC. Abolishing them abruptly will create a lot of problems and create imbalance in the power industry. This will affect all of us in terms of electricit­y needs,” he warned.

The solution, he said, is for the government to create a multiagenc­y task force made up of the National Bureau of Investigat­ion (NBI), Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the President that would probe the anomalies within the ERC.

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