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ERC Allays Consumers’ Apprehensions on the MERALCO Refund

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), in its meeting with consumer- stakeholders held on 16 May 2017, allayed the apprehensions on the MERALCO refund by explaining procedural requirements followed by the agency in the promulgation of Orders and Decisions.  

We just have to follow some legal procedures to ensure that the ERC’s Order (of refund) is robust and legally defensible, considering the 90-day preventive suspension issued by the Office of the President to Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar.  There was no change in the amount to be refunded nor scheduled period thereof,” Officer-In-Charge (OIC) Commissioner Alfredo J. Non clarified.

The MERALCO refund case was deliberated and decided en banc on 02 May 2017. However, the Office of the President served a copy of the Preventive Suspension Order on Chairman Salazar on 04 May 2017 and this posed as a constraint to the promulgation of the Order.

The ERC also clarified that the Press Release (PR) on the MERALCO refund posted on the ERC’s website on 03 May 2017 was recalled on 04 May 2017 as the relevant Order is yet to be approved and signed by the ERC Commissioners.
In the normal course of procedure, while an Order is still being drafted, any Press Release regarding the disposition of the case is pre-mature because the ERC Commissioners still need to affix their signatures thereon.

On 04 May 2017, the first draft was still routed via the office of Commissioner Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit.  On that same day, the Order of suspension which was announced the previous night was served to the Office of Chairman Salazar and a copy was furnished to the other Commissioners.  This supervening event constrained the Commission to reconfirm the order so that the same could be promulgated.  Thus, a Special Commission Meeting was conducted on 11 May 2017, in the presence of all ERC Service Directors/Officers-In-Charge and Division Chiefs, and reconfirmed the earlier decision of the Commission adopted on 02 May 2017.  

Moving forward, the ERC addressed the procedural challenges with the following corrective measures that led to the promulgation of the Order and its release on 15 May 2017:

(1)    The Commission confirmed the decision because the Chair could no longer sign the Order due to the preventive suspension; and

(2)    Notice of Public Hearing had to be issued and a hearing had to be conducted within thirty (30) days from the issuance of the Order.

 “The ERC remains faithful to its mandate as we carry the responsibility of public service.  In spite of the administrative challenges, we still work with as much, if not more, dedication than ever to produce results with clear and confident level of transparency and efficiency,” Officer-In-Charge (OIC) Commissioner Alfredo J. Non added.  


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