PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday said he has yet to act on the administrative complaint filed against Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairman Zenaida Ducut as the case is still in the hands of Palace lawyers.
The President said Malacañang is carefully studying the complaint filed by party-list group Akbayan in early February.
“I understand there were complaints from Congressman Walden Bello and another one sent to the Office of the Executive Secretary. It is now with Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Aguinaldo, where the complaint is being studied,” Aquino said.
On February 4, Malacañang asserted its authority over the ERC by forming a panel to investigate Ducut who, critics said, failed to stop the exorbitant rate hike imposed by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Investigative and Adjudicatory Division (IAD) of the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (DESLA) has received the complaint of party-list group Akbayan against Ducut.
Akbayan is widely known to be very close to President Aquino where Presidential Political Adviser Ronaldo Llamas is a leader while former Rep. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan (defeated in the Senate race) ran under the administration party.
Coloma explained that the IAD is the equivalent of the defunct Presidential Anti-Graft Commission that investigated appointed officials suspected of committing graft and corruption.
Aguinaldo will submit his findings and recommendations to his boss, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. then to President Aquino.
The case stemmed from Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez’ verified administrative complaint before DESLA against the embattled Ducut. The lawmakers asked the President to sack her for failing to protect power consumers. They said the Chief Executive has the authority to investigate, hear and decide complaints of gross negligence and incompetence against presidential appointees who are directly under him.
They cited Section 46 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Services, which states that gross neglect of duty is punishable by dismissal from the service.
“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.