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DOE asks Malacañang to appoint temporary ERC commissioners

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) is asking Malacañang to appoint temporary commissioners to help resolve the regulatory vacuum in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella warned there would be delays in the approval of the applications pending with the ERC even though the agency is working to ensure that there would be no power interruption in the country.

Earlier, ERC chairperson and CEO Agnes Devanadera said the one-year suspension order on the four commissioners would paralyze the whole power industry with P1.59 billion worth of pending applications before the agency, which could lead to possible occurrence of power outages in Metro Manila and in the provinces.

Fuentebella said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has written a letter to the Office of the President (OP) to look into the possibility of appointing temporary commissioners.

The letter was submitted soon after the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana for one year without pay for delaying the conduct of competitive bidding in securing power supply deals.

“They are looking at the legal implications, it’s the lawyers there doing that,” Fuentebella said.

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Since the ERC acts as a collegial body, the presence of at least three members of the commission is needed to constitute a quorum to enable the ERC to adopt any ruling, order, resolution, decision or other acts of the Commission in the exercise of its quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative functions.

Under Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the President has the authority to appoint the chairman and four commissioners of the ERC.

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