Two administration lawmakers on Thursday Pres. Benigno Aquino 3rd to remove Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Zenaida Ducut from office for her role in approving Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)’s big-time power rate hike.
Akbayan Party-list Reps. Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez filed an administrative complaint before the Office of the President’s Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs for Ducut’s “gross neglect of duty” and “incompetence” for approving Meralco’s P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh) rate hike.
“Ducut is guilty of gross neglect of duty and incompetence by tacitly approving without the barest hint of due process Meralco’s unprecedented power rate hike,” Bello said.
Bello said the ERC under Ducut’s leadership failed to give due notice to the public or conduct a hearing on the rate hike.
“Her failure is stupefying considering that the increase in Meralco’s generation charge for the month of November 2013 was the largest under the regulatory regime implemented by the Epira and administered by the ERC. It was incumbent upon Ducut being the head of the ERC to have conducted an immediate investigation into the matter,” Bello said.
Meanwhile, Gutierrez believed that Pres. Benigno Aquino 3rd can remove Ducut as the Constitution stated that the president shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices to ensure economy and efficiency in the government.
“The President has the power to remove Ducut. Presidential appointees with the exception of those appointed in constitutional bodies come under the direct disciplining authority of the President,” said Gutierrez.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that Ducut should have resigned because of the controversy surrounding the power rate hike.
“It is on my watch that all of these happened and remember, after it had been announced was the time that they sought her okay. In other words, [the hike]was announced before her okay was approved as if [it’s a] foregone conclusion that she would say yes.”
Ducut was a three-term member of the House of Representatives representing Pampanga’s second district before serving the ERC. She was tagged by whistleblowers as a conduit of Janet Lim-Napoles and other lawmakers in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. JHOANNA BALLARAN