DOE defends Cusi amid Ombudsman case


The Department of Energy (DOE) came to the rescue of its boss Sec. Alfonso Cusi following the charges hurled against him before the Office of the Ombudsman for failing to stop electricity rates from rising while being actively involved in party politics ahead of next year’s elections.

In a statement, the DOE said the Power for the People Coalition (P4P) had a “misinformed” and “skewed” appreciation of the facts regarding the department’s performance.

P4P filed criminal and administrative raps versus Cusi on Friday for allegedly violating Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The secretary supposedly committed “grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty, inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of service in connection with the power rate hikes in recent months while he was embroiled in the PDP-Laban leadership fight.”

Cusi was in Cebu officiating a PDP-Laban meeting when the Luzon Red Alerts began on May 31. The energy chief, also the administration party’s vice chairman at that time, was at odds with the camp of Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

P4P added that since taking office in 2016, Cusi allegedly did not issue significant policies to address pressing power issues, further saying that he completely disregarded his mandate to ensure the reliability, quality, and supply of electric power.

The DOE then countered by citing Cusi’s competitive selection process policy issued back in 2018, which ordered power industry players to procure power “in the least cost manner.” The policy was questioned before the Supreme Court, which it later affirmed.

The department likewise cited the issuance of the ancillary services (AS) policy in 2019 and the Grid Operations and Maintenance Program (GOMP) in 2020. The AS policy specifically aims to secure reserve power supply for the grid in case multiple power plants bog down, while the GOMP prohibits power plants, except hydropower facilities, from doing maintenance activities during the summer months.

The DOE also said it has completed the implementation of mechanisms under RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which include the Renewable Portfolio Standards policy, and the green energy option program (GEOP). A total of 13 retail electricity suppliers have been accredited as GEOP participants.