THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is urging the government to restore the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) normal functions, saying that the power vacuum within it is endangering the Philippine energy sector and its customers.
Meralco President Oscar Reyes told reporters that restoring these functions is “quite critical,” as there are investments, power-plant construction projects, supply of different distribution utilities and electric cooperatives, and other pressing matters pending before the agency.
Noting that the energy sector is heavily regulated, Reyes said “its operations, future and service to customers [are]largely affected by the ability of its regulator, the ERC, to function effectively.”
He expressed concern that, with that ability compromised, it may put at risk the sector’s capacity to assure customers of a reliable and secure power supply.
Reyes said he does not want the country to lose its momentum and investors’ confidence, since its growth trajectory is “very well-positioned” and has become very attractive to both local and foreign investors.
Despite his concerns, Reyes said Meralco remains hopeful that the ERC would resume fulfilling its functions.
His statement came a month after the Office of the Ombudsman suspended ERC Commissioners Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana for one year without pay after they were found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The suspension stemmed from allegations they had unduly favored Meralco and its sister companies by exempting them from the competitive selection process (CSP) in 2016.
Following their suspension, ERC Chairman and CEO Agnes Devanadera said the paralysis at her agency had started.
“The Ombudsman’s decision to suspend the four ERC commissioners will have a substantial impact on the whole country and presents a dangerous regulatory risk that will severely affect the economic and financial environment of the country,” Devanadera said. JORDEENE B. LAGARE