IT’S business as usual for the Energy Regulatory Commission despite the four-month suspension meted on Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar for alleged insubordination.
In a text message, Rexie Digal, ERC spokesman, said on Friday that the regulatory body still has Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit, and Geronimo Sta. Ana “who can validly and legally act on matters pending before us.”
Digal added the commissioners’ first order of business was to nominate Commissioner Non as officer-in-charge.
Non was previously named as the OIC by Malacañang in May following Salazar’s three-month suspension pending the results of an inquiry on the administrative charges that were filed against him.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea decided to suspend Salazar for defying a Malacañang order.
Banaag said the insubordination case against Salazar stemmed from his order to lawyer Ronaldo Gomez as signing authority for the office of the chairman and chief executive officer even after Malacanang had assigned Commissioner Geronimo Sta. Ana to serve as officer-in-charge during his absence.
“So this is the insubordination part. This is the penalty. So the Office of the President has jurisdiction over Salazar and for his disobedience for insubordination, for not obeying the appointment, the previous appointment released or given by the Office of the Executive Secretary to Mr. Sta. Ana, OIC Sta. Ana, for appointing another person as OIC. That is the case and insubordination that was decided upon by the Office of the ES,” Banaag said.
Banaag said a preventive suspension on Salazar last May was different from his suspension on Thursday.
“A preventive suspension is not a form of penalty. So the preventive suspension part is in order for the office to be able to investigate without any of documents being hidden by any body who is being investigated. This is separate. So this is a penalty already for insubordination,” she said.
“But there are other issues surrounding the case of Commissioner Salazar, which of course is different from insubordination case,” she added.
The Palace official refused to comment on the administrative charges against Salazar.
President Rodrigo Duterte had asked Salazar to resign after ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr. committed suicide.
Villa had exposed that some ERC officials were pressuring him to approve anomalous deals.
JORDEENE SHEEX LAGARE