ERC’s misplaced loyalty
I read with amazement the news story “Small contracts betray big problems at ERC” (News, 3/14/17), but I was happy to read that in the congressional hearing on the suicide of former ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) director Francisco Villa Jr., Bids and Awards Committee secretariat head Cherry Lyn Gonzalez testified that the P384,849.75-worth of renovation work bid out last October was already completed in the first quarter of that year. It was a case of “build/complete the work, and documents and payments to follow”—which validated charges that the ERC is so corrupt such that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill to have it abolished.
To support the allegation that the ERC is so corrupt, please allow me to cite an application filed in that agency for the construction/installation of a point-to-point transmission line traversing eight barangays, from the Sabangan hydroelectric power plant in Barangay Namatec to Barangay Otucan, Sabangan, Mountain Province. The application was filed in the last quarter of 2013.
We filed an opposition to the application citing the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (Ipra). We persistently followed up our opposition, submitting several pieces of evidence that the applicant was fast-tracking the construction/installation of the transmission lines. The ERC was deaf, mute and blind to the facts. On Dec. 9, 2014, a year after the filing of the application—with the construction/installation of transmission lines almost 90-percent completed—the ERC approved the application to construct/install transmission lines through the eight barangays.
Worth noting, they approved the application without conducting public consultations with the indigenous peoples who owned the Sabangan ancestral domain. It was a case of “work-now-approve-later.”
My P10-million question is: How much was paid, if any, for the ERC to play deaf, mute and blind on this obviously questionable transaction and gamble their careers?
The rot of corruption smells at the ERC. And the abovecited case in not something isolated; cases in similar and various forms, shapes and variations, even “smells,” have been sensed more than too often. I hope and pray that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez initiates the filing of appropriate charges of corruption against the concerned ERC officials before that rotten body is abolished.
Change is coming and let us give more meaning to the changes by putting to jail the guilty. Seemingly, the ERC is more loyal to power developers than to the people they swore to serve.
JUNIPER DOMINGUEZ, Sabangan, Mountain Province
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