by Alena Mae S. Flores – December 05, 2016 at 10:01 pm
from Manila Standard Today
THE head of the Energy Regulatory Commission has gone on a month-long leave following suggestions he step down to give way to the investigation of the corruption allegations in the department raised by an employee who committed suicide as a result of it.
ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar said in a statement his one-month leave would take effect immediately and that Commissioner Geronimo Sta. Ana had been appointed officer in charge of the Office of the Chairman.
“I have taken this step in order to focus on helping in the ongoing and planned inquiries regarding issues related to the ERC, particularly those allegedly raised by the late director Francisco Jose “Jun” Villa Jr. prior to his recent death,” Salazar said.
“I believe that by focusing on this concern, the inquiries can be brought to a speedier and fitting conclusion. This is in the best interest of the ERC. The faster the facts can be brought out in the open, the sooner we can put the matter to rest.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had both asked Salazar to step down as it was “the prudent thing to do.”
“My personal view is to make the investigation faster being conducted by the NBI, CoA and the other institutions,” Gatchalian said.
“This is also to relieve the pressure from the institution.”
Cusi on Friday said Salazar and the other commission members should go on leave “to give way to the independent investigation.”
He said there should be a legal basis for abolishing the ERC as President Rodrigo Duterte had called for after the ERC commissioners failed to resign following the death of Villa.
Cusi said the ERC was created under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, and that if such body was abolished there should be a replacement body.
“There are a lot of factors that have to be considered: investors, generators, the public. There have been delays simply because of the probe,” Cusi said.