10 lawyers lining up for ERC Commissioners posts

By Myrna M. Velasco – June 4, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila bulletin

Two high-level posts will be on vacancy by July at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and this early, 10 lawyers are on the queue to fill in, according to ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera.

She told reporters in jest that on her knowledge, “there are 10 lawyers” lining up for the posts to be freed when Commissioners Alfredo J. Non and Gloria Victoria C. Yap-Taruc will bow out of office on July 10.

When asked about the two lawyers being eyed for the post, Devanadera quipped “why two, what I know is there are 10 of them,” while also narrating that “there are a lot of people approaching me for it, but I said appointments to the posts will be of the President’s discretion.”

Devanadera acknowledged that the retirement of the two Commissioners will stir up new round of uncertainties at the ERC – given also the learning curve that the new Commissioners will have to go through before the regulatory body can get back to its normal functioning again.

“In everything, there will be uncertainties, it’s just a matter of believing. We started with so much uncertainty, but the people who were there when the Commission was in trouble are the same people we have now as we get back into shape. So what we are trying to build is an institution that won’t just break up in times of uncertainties,” the ERC chief stressed.

On the ERC posting, the industry is now abuzz with the prospective appointment of Davao-based lawyer Alexis Lumbatan as replacement of one of the retiring Commissioners; while another lawyer Gary de Jesus was reportedly recommended to the President by House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez.

Talks are also rife that Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin may get a new mandate as a Commissioner of the ERC. But since he is the alter ego of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III on all state-run energy firms (i.e. Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, National Power Corporation and National Transmission Corporation) in which he is designated board chairman, it might be a tough decision for the finance chief to let him go at this point.

Another prospective candidate is former ERC Executive Director Francis Saturnino Juan, although to many industry players, he is seen better-placed either at the board or the Independent Market Operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

Highly placed sources have similarly indicated that ERC vacancies may not just be limited to two – but three, with one of the sitting Commissioners reportedly intending to resign.

With that emerging frame, the ERC then may almost have its overhaul at the top. It is just the industry’s wish though that the learning curve of the new Commissioners will be quick and judicious, so regulatory works won’t be further disrupted.