The Alyansa Para sa Bagong Pilipinas, Inc. (ABP) has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to allow the suspension of the commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The group asked the high court to void the temporary restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals. It added that the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman suspending Commissioners Alfredo J. Non, Gloria Victoria C. Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia M. Asirit, and Geronimo D. Sta. Ana is immediately executory pending appeal.
The CA’s 9th Division stopped the implementation of the Ombudsman’s order in February this year.
The four commissioners were suspended for allegedly giving due preference to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and its power supply agreements (PSAs)with affiliated power generation companies.
The Ombudsman said the ERC commissioners were “administratively liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, aggravated by simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty.”
The ABP contested the CA’s decision, saying the four officials, if allowed to return, “could influence the immediate resolution of the midnight contracts, when in fact, they were precisely disciplined by the Office of the Ombudsman for their illegal acts related to these midnight contracts.”
The ABP has a separate pending petition before the high court against the ERC, Department of Energy, Meralco, and generating companies in connection with the PSA issue.
Under the competitive selective process, distribution utilities may execute a power supply agreement with a generation company after complying with the requirements. The distribution utility is required to open the bidding from generation companies to ensure the least cost of electricity. The ERC will not allow distribution utilities to file applications for PSA without complying with the CSP requirements.
But the ERC extended the deadline to comply with the CSP until April 30, allegedly to accommodate Meralco, which submitted the seven PSAs a day before the deadline, including those for its two subsidiaries of MeralcoPowergen Corp. (MGen) – Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc., and Atimonan One Energy, Inc.
Environmental groups have been warning that the approval of Meralco’s PSAs will harm people’s health and the environment since it will result in the use of at least 3,551 megawatts of coal.
The Ombudsman also said to dispense with the CSP requirement is not in conformity with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira) which aims to bring down power rates and improve delivery of supply through greater competition and efficiency in the industry.