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.