Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) abolished and replaced by the Board of Energy.
The House leader on Thursday filed House Bill 5020 that seeks the abolition of the ERC. The bill also aims to create the Board of Energy that will be an attached agency of the Department of Energy (DOE).
“The suspicions raised against the integrity of the ERC, which is primarily entrusted with regulating the country’s electric industry and promoting competition in the market, cannot be ignored. This abolition will ensure that the newly created board will be explicitly within the regulatory arm of the government and specifically, within the direct control and supervision of the President,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez was referring to the suicide of ERC Director Francisco “Jun” Villa Jr. in November last year amid escalating pressure to approve P400 million worth of procurement contracts for a certain Jose Morelos without public bidding.
Under Alvarez’s measure, the Board of Energy will perform the functions of the ERC but it will be supervised by the DOE. The Board will be composed of a chairperson and two members to be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Energy Secretary.
The bill prohibits the chairperson and members of the board or any of their relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, legitimate or common law, from holding any interest in any company or entity engaged in the energy business.
The bill also bans the appointment to the board of any person who has worked within three years immediately prior to the appointment, or is working in any private firm engaged in the petroleum or electric industry or any other entity whose main business is related to or connected with any such firm.
During the transition period, the ERC and its existing personnel shall continue to exercise their powers and functions.
The recent congressional investigation on Villa’s suicide revealed that ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar did not want to look into the circumstances leading to the suicide of Villa.