Duterte blasts 'milking cow' ERC for 'hundreds' of consultants
MANILA, Philippines – The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should answer for the "hundreds" of consultants it hired, said President Rodrigo Duterte in his latest tirade against the body.
"Ubos ang pera ng gobyernong ito. Milking cow 'yan, karaming consultants ninyo. Mautak itong mga gago. Bakit mo kailangan ng hundreds of consultants?" said Duterte on Monday, November 28, during the inauguration of an Iloilo coal power plant held in Malacañang.
(This will waste the government's money. It's a milking cow. You hired so many consultants. The fools are smart. Why do you need hundreds of consultants?)
Duterte revealed that he was already hearing about reports of corruption in the ERC even before the apparent suicide of its director, Francisco Villa Jr.
"I was just keeping quiet until pumutok 'yung may namatay but mayroon na akong naririnig (until news of the person's death broke but I was already hearing reports)," he said.
The President said the ERC can be abolished and replaced with another body before the end of the year.
"We can recreate that immediately maybe before the year ends," he said.
Duterte mulled how he would go about making radical changes to the supposedly corrupt body.
"I will ask Congress to abolish their positions then I will give it to the administrative body at first," he said.
Last November 21, Duterte demanded the resignation of all ERC officials after hearing intelligence reports about corruption in the commission, a body created by law to keep an eye out for abusive practices in the power industry that disadvantage Filipino consumers.
ERC officials repeatedly refused to resign, saying they would rather cooperate with an "impartial investigation" or meet with the President first. (READ: ERC chairman still won't resign despite Duterte's order)
The ERC has been hounded by reports of dubious handlings of contracts, the hiring of too many consultants, and questionable appointments. (READ: ERC appointment raises conflict-of-interest issues)
Despite these reports, Senator Ralph Recto urged Duterte not to abolish the agency, emphasizing the need for a body to "police" the electricity market.
"Somebody should blow the whistle on anti-competitive practices in an industry so vital to the nation," said Recto.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, has called for a Senate probe into the mandate of the ERC. – Rappler.com