Palace: Ducut's side should also be heard

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Friday, January 24, 2014

MALACANANG on Friday said that Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Ducut should be given an opportunity to explain herself amid the complaint filed against her.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Ducut could not just be removed from her post since she is a head of an independent regulatory commission.

"Kaya meron din namang aspects 'yan na tina-take into consideration at dahil nga may naghain na rin ng complaint laban kay ERC Chair Zenaida Ducut, magkakaroon na ng proseso para alamin kung mayroong sapat na batayan iyong mga allegations laban sa kanya," he said in a press briefing.

"At makatwiran din naman na magkaroon siya ng pagkakataon na maipaliwanag iyong kanyang mga aksyon dahil, so far, ang naririnig lang natin ay iyong galing sa kabilang panig," Coloma added.

He said he respects the position being taken by other people, including House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, that Ducut should vacate her post following her alleged failure to do her duty.

Akbayan party-list group has filed an administrative complaint against Ducut before the Office of the President for alleged neglect of duty and incompetence due to rising power rates.

President Benigno Aquino III has earlier ordered the concerned government agencies to investigate the sudden increase of electricity rates, particularly in Metro Manila.

Coloma said that the President is determined to find out the cause of the sudden power rate hike to avoid it from happening again.

Citing the Senate hearing on the issue on Thursday, he spelled out during the briefing the corrective measures that the government should undertake.

First, industry players must prepare for the maintenance shutdown of Malampaya gas facility and other sources of power to avoid disruptions in the electric supply and sudden rise in energy bills.

Second, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the chief regulator of the power industry, must ensure that there is no collusion among industry players that result to unjustifiable profits.

If an anomaly is proven, based on the EPIRA, any entity that committed abuses must be held accountable, Coloma said.

While the lawmakers investigate the issue, government agencies, based on the President’s order, are investigating the power rate hike by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

The DOJ is also doing a parallel investigation and the President at the same time wants a review for possible amendment of EPIRA.

“Government is committed to ensure the sufficient supply of electricity to households and industries at reasonable rates and foster a business climate that encourages continuing investments in energy development,” Coloma said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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