Philippine Daily Inquirer

ERC told inaction on questioned power deals means graft

- By Jerome Aning @JeromeAnin­gINQ

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate warned Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Agnes Devanadera against inaction on seven power supply agreements (PSAs) pending at the agency but which militant legislator­s questioned for not going through public bidding.

Zarate said Devanadera should subject the controvers­ial deals, which are being linked to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), to a competitiv­e selection process (CSP) in accordance with the findings and recommenda­tion of the House committees on energy and on good government and public accountabi­lity.


“We are waiting for action on the anomalous power supply agreements,” Zarate told reporters.

“Maybe the only thing that Devanadera can do right now is to order the submission of the seven PSAs to a CSP,” he said.

Zarate said as ERC chair, this was Devanadera’s “litmus test.”

“Where does her interest lie?” he said. “That’s what we’re waiting for,” he added.

Zarate vowed to file graft cases against Devanadera, who became ERC chair in November 2017, if she approved the deals.

He said while the deals were submitted to the ERC prior to Devanadera’s tenure, “we guarantee that any attempt on her part to approve the PSAs would earn for her criminal and administra­tive charges.”

The House of Representa­tives investigat­ed the case after Zarate filed a resolution questionin­g the PSAs that involved deals to build coal-fired power plants.

The lawmaker said owners of the plants were connected to Meralco-affiliated generation companies.

After deadline

Zarate claimed the seven contracts were sweetheart deals as they did not go through bidding.

The ERC received the PSAs after the 5 p.m., April 29, 2016, deadline set by the commission.

He estimated that consumers would shoulder P930 billion in additional power rate expenses within the 20-to-21-year duration of the power supply deals if the ERC approved these.

In October 2015, the ERC adopted a resolution mandating all power distributo­rs to submit supply contracts to bidding before resorting to direct negotiatio­ns.

Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, of 1-Care party-list group and vice chair of the committee on energy, said a consolidat­ed bill was being crafted to replace the ERC with the Philippine Power Commission, which would have more powers.

The consolidat­ed bill, which is based on a measure filed by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, would provide for nine commission­ers serving coterminou­s with the President.

The commission­ers must be experts in law, accountanc­y, power system engineerin­g and utility economics.

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