Akbayan wants Ducut out

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Akbayan Partylist group has filed a complaint before the Office of the President seeking the ouster of former Pampanga lawmaker Zenaida Ducut from the Energy Regulatory Commission or ERC.

Ducut was representative of Pampanga’s second district from 1995 to 2004 prior to her appointment as ERC chief in 2008 by then President and now Second District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez filed the verified administrative complaint against Ducut for her immediate removal as ERC chief before the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODELSA), which is under the Office of the President.


“Ducut is guilty of gross neglect of duty and incompetence by tacitly approving without the barest hint of due process Meralco’s unprecedented power rate hike,” said Bello in a statement sent to Sun.Star Pampanga.

According to Bello, Ducut “was incompetent in protecting the interest of the consumers, allowing Meralco in its planned power rate hike.” He added that the Kapampangan ERC chief also “committed gross neglect of duty as to Meralco’s power supply agreements with the generation companies even though these firms did not provide for replacement power in the event of scheduled or forced outages of their power plants.”

Bello added that the ERC “did not give due notice to its consumers on the rate hike,” although Meralco, however, cannot yet implement the increase because of a 60-day temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.

“Her failure is stupefying considering that the increase in Meralco’s generation charge for the month of November 2013 was the largest under the regulatory regime implemented by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) and administered by the ERC. It was incumbent upon Ducut being the head of the ERC to have conducted an immediate investigation into the matter,” the legislator claimed.

Bello and Gutierrez also said that the President has the authority to investigate, hear, and decide complaints of gross neglect of duty filed against presidential appointees under his supervision and control.

“The President has the power to remove Ducut. Presidential appointees with the exception of those appointed in constitutional bodies come under the direct disciplining authority of the President,” said Gutierrez.

Under Section 46 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Services, gross neglect of duty is punishable by dismissal from the service.

Both lawmakers also assailed Ducut for being allegedly a "pork agent" of a reported syndicate using the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

“Pork agent noon, Meralco agent naman ngayon. I don’t understand why this inept and disreputable holdover is still in government running a regulatory body tasked to protect consumers. It is simply outrageous,” said Bello. (Kristine Venet Q. Andal)

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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