President Duterte orders ERC officials to resign

LIMA, Peru — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered all commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to resign following the death of one of its officials.

“I am demanding that they all resign,” President Duterte said during a press briefing with the Philippine media delegation who accompanied him as he attended the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit here.

“If they want to spare the humiliation of sitting there without the money, they resign and I will reorganize or rename…Silang lahat, they have to resign,” he added.

The President made his call in the wake of the death of ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr., who committed suicide after exposing alleged corruption activities within the ERC.

Villa, brother of broadcast journalist Charie Villa, revealed in his suicide note the supposed pressure he got from ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar to approve procurement contracts without proper bidding.

Should the ERC commissioners refused to resign, President Duterte said he would be forced to file a case against them, citing internal and intelligence reports regarding the case of Villa.

Duterte likewise said that he would even ask Congress to “disband” the ERC if its officials insist to cling to posts.

“They must resign. I have options: file a case against them all or demand that no money will be appropriated,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Duterte said his first attendance to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Peru had been productive and informative.

“It was a productive one, very informative for me being a first-timer in this kind of meeting,” he said.

The President noted that China, Russia and Vietnam were the countries which had been eager to share their expertise with the Philippines, particularly in terms of new technologies and climate change mitigation.

President Duterte had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the start of the APEC Summit here.

Duterte said he had become instant friends with the two leaders, noting that President Putin even reiterated his invitation to President Duterte to visit Russia.

“Mukhang parang magkakilala na kami nang matagal and even the way we pat each other’s hand in a handshake,” he said.