Manila Bulletin

Senator wants ERC head to take a leave while probe is ongoing


DAVAO CITY – Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian is recommendi­ng that Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar take a leave of absence while investigat­ion is ongoing on the allegation­s hurled against the regulatory body.

“My personal view is, to hasten the investigat­ion conducted by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigat­ion), COA (Commission on Audit) and others, and also to relieve pressure from the institutio­n, I think out of delicadeza, he (Salazar) can take a leave so there’s complete freedom when it comes to the investigat­ion,” the lawmaker told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Electricit­y Summit (PES) 2016 here.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has more muted stance on the issue, but when pressed by the media, he said “if he (Salazar) will ask for my advice, then I will recommend it (leave of absence).”

He added “that is a prudent thing to do to give way to an independen­t investigat­ion. We already asked NBI to investigat­e and we believe the investigat­ion is ongoing.”

Cusi similarly recognizes the vital role of the ERC when it comes to regulating the restructur­ed electricit­y sector – and that its abolition could redound to further delays in rulings and in laying down regulatory frameworks that shall advance reforms in the electricit­y sector.

Gatchalian, meanwhile, qualified that his stand is for the ERC to be maintained as an institutio­n, noting that the recommende­d leave will just be to ensure that the probe process of various agencies could be done neutrally and without question of influence.

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