Cusi plays trouble shooter role in raging ERC power squabble

By  Lenie Lectura – April 19, 2017

from Business Mirror

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said on Wednesday that he recently met with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) commissioners to address the concerns raised by the public, and the electricity industry sector as well.

These concerns were not made public, but an ERC Office Order signed by Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar has recently caught the ire of the ERC commissioners.

It was gathered that Salazar issued ERC Office Order 72 dated April 7, designating Atty. Ronaldo Gomez as officer in charge (OIC) of the agency while he is on leave from April 9 to 25. Gomez is currently the agency’s executive director.

“In the exigency of the service and pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, Atty. Ronaldo Gomez, OIC-executive director, is hereby designated, in addition to his existing duties and responsibilities, as signing authority for the Office of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and shall perform all the Chief Executive Officer functions of the said office during the leave of absence of Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar,” an order signed by Salazar stated.

The ERC commissioners, namely, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc and Geronimo Santa Ana, objected to the designation.

In their letter to Salazar dated April 11, the commissioners conveyed to Salazar that various Office Orders  affecting the reassignment and designation of certain officials performing critical functions of the agency will certainly affect the discharge of their regulatory duties.

“The matter has been taken up in an executive session, and likewise arose in previous commission deliberations. In this light, we are requesting for a special commission meeting to discuss the issues raised herein,” they said.

Another letter, dated January 24 2017, showed that Malacañang told Salazar that Santa Ana was designated as OIC of the ERC from April 9 to 25 and May 11 to 15.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said the ERC commissioners submitted a report that the agency is currently studying.

In their previous meetings with the commissioners, Cusi asked Salazar to ensure that the ERC is working.

“I don’t know how you’ll do it, but you have to do it,” Cusi asserted.

“The DOE respects the ERC as a strong and independent institution. However, public interest comes first,” Cusi added.

In the succeeding meetings with the Commissioners, the DOE will push for a more definite set of outputs from the ERC, aside from pushing to resolve the internal differences within the commission.

“The delays incurred by the ERC must be addressed immediately. We cannot have internal squabbles within the commission go in the way of the interest of the public,” Cusi said.