Gatchalian calls for Senate probe into ERC mandate
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has been asked to look into the mandate of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), following the apparent suicide of one of its directors allegedly due to corruption.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who is the chairman of the Senate committee on energy, filed Senate Resolution Number 240 on Tuesday, November 22, calling for an inquiry on the ERC's mandate and powers under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).
Gatchalian wrote in the resolution that "the ERC's role is imbued with public interest as it is responsible for granting several types of permits necessary for industry players to operate, and approving power contracts amounting to millions, even billions of pesos."
He also described the ERC as the "Supreme Court of the power industry."
"Corruption within the commission itself could result in the proliferation of anticompetitive behavior, which would be disastrous to the stability of our electricity supply," he added.
ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr had taken his own life last November 9, allegedly after being pressured to approve anomalous contracts, according to his sister, journalist Charie Villa.
As ERC Director, Villa served as the chairman of the bids and awards committee.
His death prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to demand the resignation of top ERC officials. Duterte said corruption is rampant in the ERC, based on intelligence reports.
ERC officials refuse to quit, however, saying they would rather cooperate with an "impartial investigation."
The President then threatened to abolish the ERC, a body created to keep an eye out for abusive practices in the power industry.
Duterte will need Congress approval to abolish the commission because it was created through EPIRA.
Meanwhile, Bagong Henerasyon Representative Bernadette Herrera Dy has also filed a resolution asking the House of Representatives to look into Villa's suicide. – Rappler.com