Appointments of 4 new ERC commissioners set

By Myrna M. Velasco – June 21, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

Appointments for new Commissioners at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) are due to be released soon by Malacañang, according to sources privy to the matter.

It was gathered that the first likely appointment to be transmitted to ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera will be that of Davao Lawyer Alexis Lumbatan, who worked previously as Chief of Staff to Presidential son Paolo Duterte during his stint as Vice Mayor in Davao City.

And instead of just filling up the vacancies arising from the scheduled retirement of Commissioners Alfredo J. Non and Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, the current leaning of the Palace is to actually replace all of the four Commissioners that had been on second round of suspension via a ruling rendered by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has already indicated that President Rodrigo Duterte “has picked replacements of the four ERC officials.”

Another strong contender as ERC Commissioner, according to sources, is Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin who reportedly secured the endorsement of his boss, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, to the post. Another candidate is lawyer Gary de Jesus, an Atenean who was reportedly recommended by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Of the three, only Agabin has vast experience in the energy sector as he has been presiding in the past two years the board meetings of state-run firms Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, National Transmission Corporation and National Power Corporation on behalf of Dominguez.

Previous candidate renewable energy advocate Catherine Maceda, as gathered, was also in the Palace list, but according to sources, she declined again this time.

Non and Yap-Taruc’s remaining tenure at the ERC will now just be for three weeks, hence, it was noted that Malacañang’s immediate action on new appointments could be the most viable fix to the current chaos shattering the ERC.

As asserted by Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian, “there are two Commissioners retiring, so they should be replaced as soon as possible – and (Malacañang) could also study if the remaining Commissioners need to be replaced with people who are capable of doing regulatory works (for the power industry).”

With the Palace’s swift action on new appointments, it was indicated that the “feared disruption” in the works of the ERC could be eased – because in approving cases lodged before the Commission, it will need three Commissioners (including the Chairman) to constitute a quorum.

Gatchalian added the government must now take serious steps in rectifying the ERC’s shortcomings “because it’s the consumers being undermined in the process.”