Solon seeks raps vs those behind PSA ‘blunder’

CRIMINAL charges should be pursued against some Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) officials who allegedly committed blunder for accepting the seven controversial power supply agreements (PSA) requested by the Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) seven affiliate companies.

“Mahalagang i-pursue talaga itong criminal cases sa mga tiwaling opisyal para magkaroon ng accountability rin. Hindi na lang ‘yung nakakalusot na lang sila sa ginawa nila,” said Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Zarate cited last week’s Supreme Court (SC) En-banc ruling rejecting the PSAs due to alleged absence of required bidding in pursuing the charges.

“Malinaw ang ginawa ng mga [ERC] commissioners na pinaboran nila ‘yung Meralco,” said Zarate. “Dapat managot sila not only administratively, but also criminally.”

Aya Jallorina, Secretary General of winning petitioner Alyansa Para sa Bagong Pilipinas, (ABP) Inc., said the SC ruling could help push the criminal charges against some ERC officials.

Earlier, the seven pending contracts for the construction of seven coal-fired powered plants were filed as per the ERC on April 30, 2016—the submission deadline.

This prompted ABP to challenge the PSAs before the SC in 2017, with intervenor Bayan Muna claiming that the Commission changed its original deadline of October 2015 just to accommodate the Meralco gencos’ contracts.

“Ang mahalaga rito ay maging accountable ang mga opisyal na ito para magiging lesson sa mga iba pang opisyal,” said Zarate.  

The Ombudsman slapped ERC commissioners Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpala-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana with a one-year suspension each in connection with the controversial PSAs in December 2017.

But the ERC executives managed to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the suspension from the Court of Appeals (CA).

Since July last year, three of the commissioners—Non, Yap-Taruc, and Sta. Ana have left the ERC. Non and Yap-Taruc retired, while Sta. Ana resigned for health reasons.

At the same time, Bayan Muna Chairman and Makabayan senatorial bet Neri Colmenares appealed to the CA to lift the TRO so that the remaining commissioner may officially serve the suspension.

“I-lift niyo na yung TRO doon sa suspension ng mga ERC officials na involved doon sa pag postpone or pag reset ng deadline,” said Colmenares, a former congressman, also in the same press conference.

“At sa Ombudsman, imbestigahan ang mga ERC officials at sino pa mang involved doon sa pagpayag sa Meralco na magsubmit ng PSA kahit tapos na ang deadline,” he said, noting that they have evidence that four of the PSAs were antedated from May 2, 2018 to April 30, 2018.