DOJ usec has inside track in derby for top ERC post | Inquirer News

DOJ usec has inside track in derby for top ERC post

/ 05:33 AM July 10, 2015

A justice undersecretary with ties to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa has emerged as the leading candidate to replace outgoing Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Zenaida Ducut.

Lawmakers on Thursday urged President Aquino to broaden his search for the next ERC chair to ensure that Ducut’s successor would not carry political or corporate baggage.

A source with knowledge of the vetting process said Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar was one of three “outside” nominees being considered by the President but was seen as having the edge because of his backers.


The other outsiders being considered are Jose Ferdinand Dechavez (an adviser of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines) and National Renewable Energy Board chair Pete Maniego.


The source said Salazar had the edge because his backers belonged to the two warring sides in the administration—Drilon of the “Balay” group and Ochoa of the “Samar” group.

At least two members of the ERC are also on the President’s list of nominees—ERC commissioners Josefina Patricia Asirit (daughter of Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale and niece of Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras) and Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc. Both are lawyers, a basic requirement for the ERC chair.

Consumer interests

Members of the House committee on energy urged the President to appoint an ERC chief who would fight for consumer interests.

“We need an ERC chair that would hold high the interests of consumers instead of the profits of big power industry players,” said Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodrguez said: “The next ERC chief should be one who will concentrate on approving reasonable rates for renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, hydro and fast-track the approval of the agreements and rates for the electric cooperatives and distribution entities in Mindanao.”


Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano said the ERC chief should be “insulated from politics and corporate influence.”

Ducut is expected to step down on July 15, seven years after she was appointed by her town mate, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Ducut yielded her post as Pampanga representative, which was then taken over by presidential son Juan Miguel Arroyo.

Ducut has taken a low profile in her last two years in office after it was revealed that she acted as a “broker or agent” of accused pork barrel plunderer Janet Lim-Napoles.

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Ducut was among those charged by the Ombudsman for arranging the transfer of pork barrel funds to Napoles from former Representatives Ruffy Biazon (Muntinlupa), Marc Douglas Cagas IV (Davao del Sur) and Arthur Pingoy Jr. (South Cotabato).

TAGS: ERC, Zenaida Ducut

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