TO strengthen its regulatory functions, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should be integrated with the Department of Energy (DOE).
The integration must not sacrifice or undermine the functions of ERC, former Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla, who also chairs the Center for the Advancement of Trade Integration and Facilitation, said.
Currently, the ERC serves as the sector’s regulatory agency under the Office of the President.
“The ERC must be attached to the DOE, because right now the ERC is attached to the Office of the President,” said Lotilla during the Economic Forum organized by Ayala Corp. and University of the Philippines School of Economics (UPSE).
ERC was created by virtue of Section 38 of the Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) as an independent, quasi-judicial regulatory body.
Section 43 of the EPIRA tasked the ERC to promote competition, encourage market development, ensure customer choice and penalize abuse of market power in the industry.
Placing ERC under the DOE, Lotilla, added, requires no new law.
“There is no law needed. All that is needed is for the President to transfer ERC from the Office of the President to DOE,” he said.
Lotilla said additional budget should be allocated for the ERC to pursue its mandate.
“I think that transfer should be accompanied by additional resources for ERC in terms of budgetary support to carry out its functions as well as for the rationalization of salaries for ERC staff,” he said.
In case the government cannot afford a bigger budget for the commission, Lotilla proposed that it be allowed to keep part of its income.
“As far as the autonomy of ERC when it comes to its decisions and protecting consumers is concerned, the mandate will remain,” he said.
Lotilla, however, noted that in case the transfer will not push through, the DOE and ERC should conduct frequent consultations.
“Even if we are not able to attach it to the DOE, we still have other mechanisms like bilateral consultations and having more frequent coordination and interaction between DOE and ERC,” he added.