By: Marlon Ramos
The chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Jose Vicente Salazar, may have to face his battles alone after the four commissioners of the agency tasked with regulating the power industry on Thursday brought a complaint against him to the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
In a joint affidavit, ERC Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Taruc, Geronimo Sta. Ana and Josefina Patricia Asirit accused Salazar of
violating laws and policies by arbitrarily designating individuals to career positions in the ERC, among them his first cousin.
“As can be gleaned from the foregoing, the charges against … Salazar clearly involve dishonesty, oppression and grave misconduct,” the commissioners said in a 17-page complaint.
The commissioners asked the CSC to hold Salazar administratively liable and to suspend him pending the investigation of their complaint.
“After all that has been said and done, the commission merely wants to promote good governance and checks and balances within the ERC,” they said.
“And we sincerely believe that this could be achieved if the policies of the agency, including the management thereof, could be shared by all members of the commission,” the commissioners added.
Salazar, a former justice undersecretary, has been blamed for the death of ERC director Francisco Villa Jr., who killed himself in November last year supposedly because the ERC chair had been pressuring him to approve graft-laden supply contracts.
President Duterte threatened to abolish the ERC after Salazar’s refusal to quit his post following Villa’s death and despite several allegations of corruption.
In their complaint, the commissioners said the ERC chair made “irregular appointments” and promotions of personnel in the agency without the concurrence of the five-member commission.
They said Republic Act No. 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which created the ERC, clearly stated that the authority to designate the agency’s executive director and other officials was vested in the entire commission and not in the ERC chair alone.
Worse, the commissioners claimed Salazar named personnel to key posts in the ERC despite their failure to meet the minimum requirements set by the civil service law.
Among those designated by Salazar was his cousin, Esteban Lorenzo Jose Riva, who was concurrently appointed as head executive assistant and officer in charge of the agency’s finance service.