Malacañang lauds CA move to halt suspension of 4 ERC execs

MANILA — The temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) against the Office of the Ombudsman’s suspension of the four commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is a “step in the right direction,” Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark, calling the CA decision “founded on extreme necessity.”

“Per the Office of the Executive Secretary, the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) is founded on extreme necessity,” Roque said in a statement sent to media.

Roque pointed out that without the TRO, the ERC would have been “seriously paralyzed.”

“The Energy Regulatory Commission would have been seriously paralyzed and the economy, particularly the energy sector, would have suffered grave damage had the (TRO) not been issued,” Roque said.

“The Office of the President therefore lauds the grant of injunctive relief as a step in the right direction,” he added.

In a resolution dated Feb. 9 and penned by Associate Justice Mariflor Punzalan Castillo, the CA’s 9th Division issued the 60-day TRO against the one-year suspension of the four ERC commissioners.

These commissioners are Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana.

The appeals court issued the TRO in order not to “impair public service.”

Since the suspension issued by the Ombudsman last Dec. 11, 2017, no replacement was made by Malacañang to replace the said commissioners.

The CA decided that grave and irreparable injury can be committed if the TRO is not issued in favor of the petitioners-Commissioners.

It may be recalled that the ERC commissioners were suspended after they were found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, aggravated by simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty for allegedly allowing electric utilities like Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to forgo the bidding of their power supply requirements at the public’s expense.

The case stemmed from the decision of the ERC to reset the Competitive Selection Process’ (CPS) effectivity date from Nov 6, 2015 to April 30, 2016, exempting the power supply agreements (PSA) from undergoing transparent and public bidding ordained in the CSP.

The Ombudsman said the ERC commissioners exercised “gross inexcusable negligence” in delaying the CSP’s implementation since the process was put in place to make the PSAs’ cost more reasonable.

Moreover, the Ombudsman said it was clear that the commissioners favored Meralco through the delay.