Court of Appeals grants Energy Regulatory Commission execs TRO vs suspension order

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has granted the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) commissioners’ petition for a preliminary injunction against the one-year suspension order of the Office of the Ombudsman late last year.

In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Mariflor Punzalan Castillo dated April 13, the CA’s ninth division granted the preliminary injunction last week, coinciding with the last day of the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the appellate court last February.

The CA has directed the Division Clerk of Court to issue a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the Ombudsman to implement its Sept. 29, 2017 suspension order on commissioners Alfredo Non, Josefina Asirit, Gloria Yap-Taruc and Geronimo Sta. Ana.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, the appellate court has given the ombudsman 15 days to file its separate comment on the petition for review “in the interest of justice and fair play.”

The four commissioners were suspended by the Ombudsman for one year without pay for delaying the conduct of competitive bidding in securing power supply agreements (PSAs).

The competitive selection process (CSP) policy – which requires distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) to undertake competitive bidding to secure PSAs with generation companies – was supposed to start on Nov. 7, 2015 but implementation was moved to April 30, 2016 to give power players a transition period to comply.

The ombudsman said delay in the implementation negated the policies contained under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 and CSP resolutions to protect the interests of consumers.

On the new deadline, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) filed seven PSAs with the ERC covering a supply of 3,551 megawatts (MW) from generation plants which are mostly owned or partly owned by Meralco through its power-generating unit Meralco PowerGen Corp.

ERC chairperson and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera had said the suspension on the four commissioners would paralyze the whole power industry with P1.59 billion worth of pending applications before the agency.




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