By Myrna M. Velasco – September 19, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin
Aside from the formally designated top-level officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), President Rodrigo R. Duterte has also appointed two short-term officer-in-charge (OIC) Commissioners at the power industry’s regulatory body.
In the Palace appointments transmitted to ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera, current directors Floresinda B. Digal and Maria Corazon C. Gines will serve as OIC-Commissioners until October 9 this year.
The October 9 cut-off for their appointments shall be in reference to the period when the two new Commissioners under suspension – Josefina Patricia M. Asirit and Geronimo D. Sta Ana – can legally return to work.
According to Malacanang sources, the interim appointments of Digal and Gines “will ensure that the ERC could have a quorum” so they can already work on pressing matters and those needing regulatory action at the most immediate time.
Digal is currently the ERC’s Director for Regulatory Operations Service (ROS); while Gines is the Commission’s Executive Director – and both are organic officials at the agency.
It has to be noted that Duterte just recently appointed also two new Commissioners: Davao-rooted lawyer Alexis Lumbatan and known renewable energy campaigner Catherine P. Maceda; who will be serving their prescribed full year term at the ERC.
Devanadera previously apprised media that the ERC will need to deliberate expeditiously on expiring provisional approvals of power supply agreements (PSAs) to ensure electricity supply sufficiency and reliability in the country.
Nevertheless, she qualified that action on proposed power projects that do not have environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) will not be a top agenda for the Commission.
She said the companies involved filed motions for reconsideration and manifestations for clarification, but the regulatory body “will just act on these later on, it’s not really a priority for now.”
The ERC Commissioners – including those who retired last July (Alfredo J. Non and Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc) had already been slapped with two rounds of suspension – the first one was in December; and the second one in June this year.
The void in the ERC’s top level leadership had affected vast of its regulatory works and had already been making dent also on Devanadera’s zero backlog target for the Commission.