Duterte threatens to abolish ERC, if execs won’t quit

By FRINSTON LIM AND DAXIM L. LUCAS – November 25, 2016, 04:13 AM

from Philippine Daily Inquirer

DAVAO CITY—President Duterte has lashed out at officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for refusing to resign following allegations of corruption and threatened to abolish the agency tasked with regulating the power industry.

“If you refuse [to resign], that will be easy enough. We will abolish the office. I will not grant a single centavo [in separation pay],” the President said, adding he would also order an audit of the agency.

The President spoke to reporters late on Wednesday on his return from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru. He had earlier demanded the resignation of ERC officials and ordered an investigation of the agency following the Nov. 9 suicide of lawyer Francisco Villa Jr., chief of the agency’s bids and awards committee.

“I have directed a comprehensive review of all legal remedies to effect fundamental changes within the organization, including its officials,” he said.

Instead of resigning, embattled ERC chair Jose Vicente Salazar on Thursday repeated his request for a meeting with the President to explain the side of the power industry watchdog.

Salazar said in a statement that he had instructed all officials and employees to “fully cooperate” with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Commission on Audit, which are looking into allegations made by Villa.

In a suicide note, Villa said that he was being pressured by Salazar to approve a contract under anomalous circumstances.

The President said all allegations of corruption “shall be dealt with seriously.”

“How can I serve the people with a corrupt government with what’s happening in your office?” Duterte asked. “Do not make the government as a milking cow.”