ERC Chair Devanadera Explains the Impacts of the Impending Suspension
Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera in a letter to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte requested for guidance on the implementation of the Office of the Ombudsman’s Decision that resulted to the suspension of the four (4) ERC Commissioners.
“The debilitating impact of the Ombudsman’s decision to suspend the four (4) incumbent ERC Commissioners will render the operations of the agency in severe paralysis,” ERC Chair Devanadera explained. “As a collegial body, the presence of at least three (3) members of the Commission is needed to constitute a quorum to enable the ERC to adopt any ruling, order, resolution, decision or other acts of the Commission in the exercise of its quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative functions”, Chair Devanadera added.
Chairperson Devanadera particularly seeks President Duterte’s guidance on the implementation of the Ombudsman’s Decision considering that Section 7 of the Administrative Order No. 07 (AO No. 7) provides that: “A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course”. In relation thereto, Ombudsman’s Office Order No. 409, Series of 2013 states that:
In order to facilitate the implementation of Decisions and
Orders issued in administrative cases and to effectively monitor Compliance therewith, the Office finds it essential to address all indorsements of these Decisions or Orders to the Head of any
office or agency of the government. The Officer considers the
head of the office or agency, being the appointing authority,
to be primarily responsible in implementing Ombudsman’s Decisions or Orders.
Anchored on those provisions that Chair Devanadera seeks President Duterte’s sound discretion being the appointing authority of the ERC Commissioners.
The absence of a quorum in the ERC will make it unable to perform any of its quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative functions, such as: (1) Hearings will not be conducted as notices and schedules are set by the Commission; (2) No deliberations on applications for approval of Power Supply Agreements (PSAs), Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) projects of the distribution utilities and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), rate adjustments, pass-on charges will be undertaken; (3) Consumer complaints will not be acted upon; (4) Violations of industry players of existing laws, rules and regulations will not be acted upon; (5) Certificates of Compliance (COCs) or Provisional Authorities to operate power plants will not be issued or renewed; (6) Market suspension will not be declared when warranted; (7) Decisions and resolutions cannot be promulgated and released; (8) Operations of the ERC will be affected as personnel actions could not be undertaken; and (9) Procurements could not be awarded, especially the ERC meter seals and stickers being placed on electric meters of the distribution utilities, among others.
“The Ombudsman’s decision to suspend the four (4) ERC Commissioners will have a substantial impact for the whole country and presents a dangerous regulatory risk that will severely affect the economic and financial environment of the country. That is contrary to the President’s pro-poor policy as the 73.6 Million Filipinos will be adversely affected by any non-action on the part of the ERC”, Chair Devanadera emphasized.