Legazpi City (Nov. 22, 2016) – The Speaker of the House of Representatives has requested his colleagues to study measures on how to abolish the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said in a media interview that he has already requested the house Committee on Energy to look into the matter.
Alvarez explained that a thorough study and investigation should first be completed before recommendations could be made for the closure of the said office.
The speaker stressed that if ever it comes to that, the regulation of the energy industry in the country would not be affected.
He stated that the function of the ERC could always be transferred to the Department of Energy (DOE).
The concern propped-up after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself called for the resignation of all the commissioners of the ERC.
The president’s pronouncements came following the suicide of ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr. last November 9 caused by work-related tension.
The Villa family had disclosed that the director was being pressured by higher officials of the ERC to approve contracts without the proper procedure.
The young Villa was reportedly a chairman of one of the committees in the ERC that approved contracts.
House Speaker Alvarez expressed his grief after learning of the incident.
He said that he has already heard about allegations of corruption inside the ERC long before he became House Speaker.
Alvarez hopes that his fellow legislators would immediately take action on his request for an examination of the ERC before they take further steps to address the issue.
Section 38 of the Republic Act No. 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), created the ERC as an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory body, and abolished the Energy Regulatory Board.
Under Section 43 of the EPIRA, the ERC is tasked to promote competition, encourage market development, ensure customer choice and penalize abuse of market power in the electricity industry.
The ERC shall promulgate necessary rules and regulations, including Competition Rules, and impose fines or penalties for any non-compliance with or breach of the EPIRA, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the EPIRA, and other rules and regulations which it promulgates or administers as well as other laws it is tasked to implement/enforce.
According to critics, however, instead of looking out for public welfare, the ERC has done the opposite when it came to these mandated functions. (J. Garalde)