ERC chairman defends his administrative power

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Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairman Jose Vicente Salazar has turned the tables on the commissioners’ order to stop reassignments as he defended his sole administrative power to reconstitute organization.

In a memorandum issued by Salazar, he defended his exclusive power to appoint that was vested in him as chairman stated in Section 38 of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

Under the said law, the ERC chairman should also act as the chief executive officer of the commission.

“This appointing power was granted by the EPIRA solely to the head of the ERC, when it designated the Chairman and CEO of ERC as the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, a phrase absent in Executive Order No. 172, which created the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB), or even the latter’s previous iteration, the Board of Energy,” Salazar said.

Through this, he reversed all orders blocking reorganization, designation, and reassignment of ERC personnel issued by his office.

This as EPIRA validates the chairman and CEO’s administrative powers and non-compliance with orders and future issuances “would inevitably give rise to administrative liability,” Salazar added.

In April, ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Josefina Magpael-Asirit, Gloria Yap – Taruc, and Geronimo Sta. Ana objected the reconstitution of the organization ordered by Salazar.

The commissioners also protested on orders that included the appointment of ERC Davao City chief Ronaldo G. Gomez as officer-in-charge (OIC) executive director, the reconstitution of the Power Supply Agreement Technical Working Groups, the reassignment of directors and OICs; the designation of personnel to the Investigation and Enforcement Division and Meter Division; the composition of the project team of the World Bank ERC ICT-Enabled Engineering Project, and the designation of the Investigating Officers and reorganization of ERC’s Investigation Unit.

Salazar also appointed Gomez as the OIC and gave signing authority for the office of the chairman and CEO during his leave from April 9 to 25.

The commissioners said that the appointments in the agency should be done by the whole commission, as written under ERB EO No. 172.

It states there that the chairman did not possess any CEO function and that the entire ERC board has the power to appoint the entire complement of the agency.

Earlier, the RTC was wrapped with corruption controversy following the death of Director Francisco Jose “Jun” Villa, Jr – who committed suicide in November 2016.

Villa’s sister, journalist Rosario Sofia “Charie” Villa said that her brother’s suicide was due to pressure to approve procurement contracts and hire consultants without proper bidding, according to three separate notes handwritten by the late ERC official last year.