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I can’t remove ERC chief without cause – Noy

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino said removing Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairman Zenaida Ducut from her post without any justifiable reason is not forthcoming as there has to be a process before she can be given her walking papers.

“If the President has the power to appoint, then that comes with the power to dismiss. But in this particular case, we really have to show the cause. Can we remove her from office by cause or due cause?” Aquino asked, highlighting the investigation process.

He also reminded the media that the ERC, under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), is an independent government functionary that deals with power distributors and independent power producers.

Ducut is Aquino’s former colleague in the House of Representatives. She used to be a Pampanga representative – the post now held by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – while Aquino was a representative from Tarlac. Ducut was appointed by Arroyo.

The two complaints against Ducut regarding her culpability on the power rate hikes are pending before the office of deputy executive secretary for legislative affairs Michael Aguinaldo.

“To get to the point of the declaration of cause, there is a process. So the process, I understand, the last feedback I got was she was asked to reply. She has been directed to reply to the complaints against her,” Aquino said, referring to the first suit.

As to the second administrative complaint, he said it would be better if the two cases are consolidated to “expedite the process.”

Aquino noted that there is still the presumption of innocence that should be accorded to Ducut, which is why an investigation is necessary to determine her culpability on the power rate hikes.

“Our laws recognize the innocent until proven guilty and the requirement for undertaking the due process aspect. And I think it behooves us to implement all the laws of the land that we have to adhere to, giving her due process,” the President stressed.

Part of due process “is to give her a chance to reply to the same (complaints) before rendering a decision,” he told Manila-based reporters in an interview last Friday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Resignation an option for Ducut

In January, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that voluntarily resignation is one option that Ducut may avail of amid calls for her to step down following the power rate hike.

“There is this option on voluntary resignation, and I think that is where the observers are looking,” Coloma told a news conference. “As far as I know, and this needs to be verified, it (ERC post) has a fixed term and we cannot just remove her from office.”

The Palace official also said that both the Office of the President and the Office of the Ombudsman have “concurrent jurisdiction” over Ducut.

 

 

 

AQUINO DUCUT ELECTRIC POWER INDUSTRY REFORM ACT ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IF THE PRESIDENT IN JANUARY POWER PROCESS
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