THE supposed involvement of chairperson Zenaida Cruz-Ducut of the Energy Regulatory Board (ERC) on the pork barrel controversy has further raise suspicion over the possible collusion between the commission and various power producers that resulted in the increase of power rate in the country, a lawmaker said Monday.
Senator Antonio Trillanes in an interview said that the new development has gave Ducut more reason for her to appear in the scheduled senate committee inquiry regarding power rate increase this Wednesday in order for her to explain give her side.
“Her [Ducut] involvement in the pork barrel scam shows likelihood that there is collusion,” Trillanes said in an interview with reporters.
Ducut, based on the testimony made by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, is said to be close to controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and allegedly received commission from the later.
Trillanes said the senate panel is willing to issue a subpoena in case she will not attend to hearing on Wednesday.
The senator insisted that ERC, being in the frontline should have protected the interest of power consumers, however in this case the commission not only failed to protect consumers but even acted as lawyer for power producers and justify the increase.
“We shall see how she would explain her actions,” he added.
The senate committee on energy will look into the planned big-time increase in the generation cost charged by the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) and to determine and validate the reasons given to justify it.
Meanwhile, Senator Serge Osmena 3rd, chair of the Senate energy committee, admitted that unless there is collusion, he sees no cause for the ERC to stop the scheduled power rate hike.
He noted that just like the prices of fuel, the power industry is a free market, and the government cannot just stop fuel companies to raise their fuel prices.
“Personally I doubt that they (ERC) have any cause to intervene unless there is proof of collusion, you cannot intervene, that’s the free market,” he pointed out.
Osmena on the other hand assured that the panel will try to see if there is collusion which is not allowed by law.
“The main objective is to find out if there was collusion, to find out how the rules of the wesm (wholesale electricity spot market) can be amended to allow less of a bump upwards,” he said. Jefferson Antiporda