electricity coops, consumers decry corruption in CA overturn of ERC
April 17, 2018
QUEZON CITY – A
coalition of household electricity consumers, people’s and
environmental groups, faith-based groups, and electricity
cooperatives slammed the Court of Appeals' issue of a permanent
injunction against the Ombudsman’s order of suspension of four ERC
Commissioners alleged to be in collusion with Meralco and its
affiliate coal-sourced electricity generation companies.
“For the second time, and
to the grave detriment of public interest, the Court of Appeals has
turned a blind eye to the rampant corruption being committed in the
ERC,” said Power for People Coalition Convenor and Sanlakas
Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa.
“In spite of
well-established facts illuminating the favors given by key ERC
officials to Meralco and its sister energy companies, the Court of
Appeals halted these commissioners’ rightful suspension and now has
allowed them to return to their posts untouched,” continued Pedrosa.
“Moreover, this permanent
injunction by the Court of Appeals is an injunction against the
cheaper, cleaner, and safer energy sources. The CA has sealed
electricity consumers’ fate to costly, dirty, and deadly energy,” he
The Power for People (P4P)
Coalition cited the graft charges filed by a number of petitioners
in the Ombudsman against Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Yap-Taruc,
Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana for their act
of exempting the Power Supply Agreements submitted by Meralco and
other major energy companies from the coverage of the Competitive
Selection Process, a legally required process which seeks to ensure
that electricity consumers are given the cheapest, most competitive
source of electricity.
P4P Coalition Convenor
Erwin Puhawan of Freedom from Debt Coalition also slammed the
judicial body for “normalizing the culture of corruption within the
Energy Regulatory Commission.”
“The Court of Appeals
keeps protecting these commissioners from the legal repercussions of
their collusion with private companies – all under the guise of
preserving the stability of ERC’s operations,” Puhawan said.
“But it is clear as day
that the ERC has long been operating on corruption, and it is high
time that the Commission is made to answer for its repeated
violation of its public mandate. Otherwise, the public is doomed to
suffer through dirtier and costlier electricity alongside the rising
prices of other goods,” he continued.
According to Cris Palabay
from Save the Beauty of La Union, the contested Power Supply
Agreements irregularly accommodated by the ERC all compel the
generation of electricity from coal, an energy source known for
being detrimental to the environment and to the health of
“The Court of Appeals and
the ERC are effectively allowing for the continuation of these coal
companies’ destruction of our communities,” said Palabay whose
group, Save the Beauty of La Union, is currently resisting the
efforts of Global Luzon Energy Development Corp. (one of the
questionable PSAs) to build two 335-MW coal-fired power generating
facility in Brgy. Luna, La Union.
Center for Energy,
Ecology, and Development (CEED) Legal and Policy Officer Atty. Avril
De Torres also called out the coal industry’s continuing influence
over key agencies in the government, which in turn hinders the
entrance and development of cleaner and cheaper alternative,
renewable energy sources in the Philippine market
“At present, the cost of
solar and wind are drastically decreasing, with recently the cost of
wind at P3.50/kwh already leagues away from the present cost of
coal. This is notwithstanding the current cost of solar which is at
P2.99/kwh,” stated De Torres.
“The cost of RE is
projected to decrease even more in the coming years. If the ERC,
with the help of the CA, goes on to greenlight the contested PSAs
entered into by Meralco, they will be stealing at least 20 years of
cleaner, more affordable energy from Filipino communities and
electricity consumers,” she continued.
Philippine Movement for
Climate Justice National Coordinator Ian Rivera expressed alarm at
what he called the administration’s “repeated failure” to address
corruption, an inaction that largely benefits corporations while
exposing the public at large to burdens of costlier goods, and
damaged communities and environment.
“The solution following
the complaints against the ERC Commissioners has been very
straightforward: to remove the accused commissioners from their
posts and to immediately replace them in the continuation of ERC
operations,” said Rivera.
“Instead, gross inaction
on the part of the administration has culminated to a resumption of
posts by these highly contested commissioners who are now in the
position to approve the Power Supply Agreements that greatly
prejudice public interest,” he continued.
“This incompetence in
addressing corruption is a betrayal of the entire administration’s
promise to uphold an accountable government,” he concluded.