Palace Suspends ERC chair

By:  – August 04, 2017, 07:44 AM

from Inquirer.net

Malacañang on Wednesday suspended Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Jose Vicente Salazar for four months for insubordination.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea found Salazar guilty of insubordination for appointing an officer in charge (OIC) to his post last March when he went on leave.

“(Medialdea), in his decision dated Aug. 2, 2017, finds Energy Regulatory Commission chair and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jose Vicente Salazar guilty of insubordination,” Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag announced on Thursday in a press briefing.

Salazar assigned Ronaldo Gomez, chief of the Mindanao Field Office, as OIC when he went on leave although Malacañang had already named ERC Commissioner Geronimo Sta. Ana to the post.

“So this is the insubordination part. The Office of the President has jurisdiction over chair Salazar and [he’s being penalized] for his disobedience,” she said.

“Thus, Salazar is meted out the penalty of suspension for a period of four months without pay,” she added.

Preventive suspension

Banaag said the suspension order was different from the 90-day preventive suspension issued by Medialdea last May against Salazar after he was slapped with about half a dozen administrative charges.

Salazar was charged with serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, gross insubordination, violations of the Government Procurement Act and violation of the Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Medialdea said the order for preventive suspension was issued so that Salazar could not influence the investigation.

Last year, Salazar was publicly accused of committing anomaly by then ERC director Francisco Jose Villa Jr. The corruption allegations drove Villa to commit suicide on Nov. 9, 2016.

Salazar denied the charges, claiming that influential individuals with vested interests in the energy sector wanted him sacked.

 Other cases

“This is the penalty already for insubordination, but there are other issues surrounding the case of chair Salazar which are different from the insubordination case,” Banaag said.

The OES is also investigating Salazar for two other cases that are “more serious” than insubordination, said Banaag, but declined to provide details.

“Of course, we cannot divulge whatever it is so as not to preempt whatever it is that might happen,” she added, apparently referring to the other cases that could be filed against Salazar.

Sought for comment, ERC spokesperson Floresinda Digal said: “We assure the stakeholders, especially the consumers, that despite these administrative challenges, the commission remains steadfast in its commitment to continue performing its mandate.”