By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 19, 2017 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Trouble is brewing at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) after four commissioners protested appointments issued by ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar while he was on official leave.
ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Josefina Magpale-Asirit, Gloria Yap-Taruc and Geronimo Sta. Ana filed a memorandum objecting to the reconstitution of the organization as ordered by Salazar.
The four claimed the reconstitution should be done by the entire ERC.
Salazar is reportedly under investigation for making the appointment, a move allegedly meant to deceive Malacañang. He has not reportedly been showing up at the office since last week.
Among the orders that the commissioners objected to were the appointment of ERC-Davao City chief Ronaldo Gomez as officer-in-charge (OIC) executive director, reconstitution of PSA-Group and reassignment of directors and OICs.
In the memorandum, the commissioners objected to the re-assignment and designation of certain officials performing critical operational functions.
They said the move would affect their regulatory duties.
This follows a provision of Executive Order 172, which provides that the ERC board has the power to appoint the entire complement of the agency, including the executive director post.
In an interview, Asirit said they filed a protest memo calling for a special meeting to discuss the appointments.
And while the orders are still being challenged, the commissioners called for a general assembly and ordered officials and personnel not to implement orders issued by the Office of the Chairman.
Salazar appointed Gomez officer-in-charge, giving him signing authority as chairman and chief executive officer, while he is on leave from April 9 to 25.
But the Office of the Executive Secretary designated commissioner Sta. Ana as OIC.
“I was told the one coming from Malacañang should prevail,” Sta. Ana said.
For his part, Non said the appointment of two OICs is creating confusion within the ERC.
“The designation of the existing executive director is not yet resolved because we are questioning his appointment. His designation as OIC executive director is being questioned and yet he is still being appointed as OIC in his place,” he said, referring to Gomez.
Sources said the four commissioners have raised the issue before the Professional Regulation Commission and Department of Energy.
“Formal filings have yet to be made,” Asirit said.
The STAR tried but failed to get Salazar’s comment on the matter.
Earlier, corruption issues rocked the ERC after former director Francisco Jose Villa Jr. committed suicide in November 2016.
Villa’s sister, journalist Charie Villa, said her brother was being pressured to approve procurement contracts and hire consultants without public bidding.
Villa cited three separate handwritten notes made by her late brother in August.
The alleged corruption and death of director Villa were investigated in both the Senate and the House.
Lawmakers called for the termination of the probe last month. – With Edith Regalado