With top officials suspended, ERC chair warns of possible massive blackouts

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 22 2017 02:07 PM | Updated as of Dec 23 2017 12:47 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Agnes Devanadera on Friday expressed fears of possible massive blackouts in different parts of the country following the suspension of the commission's top officials.

Devanadera said massive blackouts are bound to happen due to the commission's "paralysis."

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This comes after commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit, and Geronimo Sta. Ana were suspended by the Ombudsman for a year without pay for allegedly excluding the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and other firms from a competitive selection process meant to “elicit the best price” for consumers. 

The suspension order was served Thursday during the commission's Christmas party and was received by the "disappointed" commissioners, said Devanadera.

Because of the suspension order, Devanadera said the ERC would not be able to hold meetings as a collegial body to resolve pending cases in the commission.

She said among pending cases and petitions are rehabilitation projects in typhoon-affected areas and applications from electric cooperatives, as well as transmission and power supply agreements with other companies.

Around P1.58 trillion worth of projects and applications remain pending, and failure to act on these will "paralyze" the ERC and the power sector which may lead to massive blackouts in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, Devanadera said.

In a bid to arrest such worst-case scenario, Devanadera said she would ask the President to decide on the suspension order since he, as appointing authority, has the power to do so. 

ERC officials are appointed by the President.