LIMA, Peru: President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday told officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to resign or be humiliated and charged for corruption.
“I am demanding that they all resign. They really abused [the system]… just like in the past,” the President told reporters before heading back to Manila.
“If they want to be spared of the humiliation of sitting there without the money, they resign and I will reorganize or rename the — silang lahat [all of them]they have to resign,” he said.
Duterte disclosed that he has internal and intelligence reports indicating systemic corruption in the ERC. The issue hogged the spotlight in the wake of the death of ERC Director Francisco “Jun” Villa Jr., who committed suicide after exposing alleged corruption within the ERC.
Villa revealed in his suicide note the supposed pressure he got from ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar to approve procurement contracts without proper bidding.
If the ERC commissioners refuse to resign, Duterte said he will be forced to file a case against them.
“They must resign. I have options: File a case against them all or demand that no money will be appropriated [for the commission],” he added.
The President said he will ask Congress to either withhold the budget of the ERC or disband the agency altogether.
“I will ask Congress, I demand from Congress to disband and/or file a case simultaneously against them when I get back. I think my source already [has]documents,” he added.
“Now it’s a matter of the lawyers of the government assessing [the case]. Mabuti’t malaman na nila bago ako mag-landing kaya magdasal na lang sila [It’s better that they are warned before I land so they better start praying],” the President said.
But ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Josefina Asirit and Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc declared that they will not resign.
Salazar has sought a meeting with Duterte.
In a statement issued on Monday, he said he is confident that the meeting “would result in clearer directions from him regarding the issues facing the ERC.”
Salazar vowed to take appropriate actions to protect the commission, part of which is to “immediately probe the allegations made by the late Director Jun Villa and our expression of support and full cooperation for the planned inquiry by the Senate Committee on Energy.”
He asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a thorough investigation of “matters internal to the ERC” raised by Villa in his suicide note, including the corporate identification audio-visual presentation that would help establish the agency’s corporate identity.
Documents showed that the project had an approved budget of P300,000 that was increased to P490,000 to cover “creative and production aspects.”
The ERC said it has not entered into any contract with the four bidders, adding that the agency of Luis Morelos had not filed a bid.
Villa, in his letter, said his biggest fear was being called out by the COA on the contents of the AVP (audio-visual project) “by Luis Morelos which the chairman and CEO Jose Vicente B. Salazar chose through a rigged selection system.”
The ERC is an independent regulatory body mandated to protect consumers and promote competitive operations in the electricity market.