Palace probes 5 ERC officials over ‘extravagant’ trips

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MALACANANG is investigating five officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for their alleged lavish trips abroad, a spokesman said on Friday.

“The matter pertaining to extravagant trips allegedly made by ERC officials, being presidential appointees, is still under investigation by the Office of the Executive Secretary,” Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

They were identified as ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Josefina Magpale-Asirit, Gloria Yap-Taruc, Geronimo Sta. Ana, and Debora Anastacia Layugan who were facing a graft, indirect bribery, and technical malversation complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly receiving at least P15 million for their travel expenses abroad from 2009 to 2015.

The complaint, pending before the Office of the Ombudsman, was filed by lawyer Jose Aaron Pedrosa Jr. who also served as Sanlakas secretary general and Samuel Cesar Gamboa, who was secretary general of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).

The complainants alleged that the ERC officials received travel money from the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) in charge of the Wholesale Electric Spot Market, which provided the basic rules, requirements and procedures governing the operation of the Philippine wholesale electricity spot market.

President Rodrigo Duterte called for the abolition of the ERC over corruption allegations following the suicide of former ERC Director Francisco “Jun” Villa Jr.

Villa took his life in November 2016 amid alleged escalating pressure to approve P400 million worth of procurement contracts for a certain Jose Morelos without public bidding.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte filed House Bill 5020 seeking the abolition of the ERC. LLANESCA T. PANTI

 

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