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ERC abolition: Some gov’t agencies, private groups favor it, others don’t

/ 01:55 PM June 25, 2018

Some concerned government agencies and private entities have opposed the proposal to abolish the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) but a consumer group backed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s proposal to scrap the agency.

On Monday, the House of Representatives committees on energy and government reorganization conducted their first technical working group meeting on House Bill (HB) 5020 seeking to abolish the ERC, as well as HB 5961 (enhancing ERC’s governance structure), and HB 7104 (streamlining the ERC).

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Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco have filed HB 5961 and HB 7104, respectively.

Representatives from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as from the Philippine Electric Plant Owners Association (PEPOA) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) opposed the proposal to abolish ERC– the agency entrusted with regulating the country’s electric industry and promoting competition in the market.

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PEPOA President Anulfo Ocampo said they prefer HB 7104 over HB 5020.

“We would prefer that the ERC will not be abolished because we prefer that the body regulator be strengthened… ” Ocampo said, adding that “improvements” can be introduced in the organization.

Ari Vergil Fabros of the NGCP said they are not inclined to support the abolition of ERC, saying it can still be “improved and strengthened.”

Meanwhile, National Power Corporation (Napocor) representative Margarita Egnisaban said they have yet tor review the other bills.

A representative from the DBM also backed the bills seeking to strengthen the ERC, while also suggesting that the representatives from consumer groups and electric corporations be included in the commission, and stations in Visayas and Mindanao be established.

DOE Asec. Gerardo Erguiza, Jr. said they also want ERC to be strengthened, specifically its relationship and dealings with the Energy Department.

However, Laban Konsyumer Incorporated President Victor Mario Dimagiba said ERC should already be abolished because strengthening it would not solve the alleged corruption in the agency.

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“Ang consumer mas madali nya maintindihan kapag ang Kongreso inabolish ang ERC. Pag ini-strengthen parang pareho lang ‘yan. I guess we should stick with the version of the Speaker to abolish,” Dimagiba insisted.

He also stressed that the new energy regulatory commission should include one representative from the consumer sector.

Alvarez earlier filed a bill seeking the abolition of the ERC in the wake of the suicide of ERC Director Francisco Jose Villa, Jr. over alleged pressures to award anomalous contracts.

Alvarez cited reports that Villa left letters alledging shady deals and irregular practices in the ERC.

READ: Speaker Alvarez files bill abolishing ERC

Under the Speaker’s bill, the ERC will be abolished and replaced with the Board of Energy, which will be an attached agency of the DOE.  /vvp

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