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CA again stops suspension of 4 ERC commissioners

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday, April 13, issued a preliminary injunction against the one-year suspension order covering all 4 Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) commissioners, issued by the Office of the Ombudsman.

It was last February when the CA issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the suspension of ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit, and Geronimo Sta Ana. The order, however, lapsed last Friday.

"The petitioners and Office of the Solicitor General's prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction is granted," the court's 12-page resolution reads.

ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera welcomed the ruling.

"I'm glad that the CA gave weight [to] the impact of the vacuum of leadership caused by the Ombudsman's suspension of the ERC commissioners and considered the welfare of the electric power industry stakeholders," said Devanadera.

She added that it is "the consuming public who will eventually suffer the consequences of the ERC's inability to perform its mandate" if the suspension stayed in place. (READ: Suspension of ERC officials will lead to 'paralysis' – Malacañang)

Back in December 2017, the Ombudsman ordered the one-year suspension of all 4 ERC commissioners, claiming they were found administratively liable for "conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service aggravated by simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty."

The Ombudsman said there was sufficient evidence that the ERC gave unwarranted benefits to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and other firms by exempting them from the competitive selection process requirement, which was already in effect after November 6, 2015. The competitive selection process is meant to elicit the best prices for consumers.

All 4 ERC commissioners then sought a TRO, which was granted by the CA back in February but already lapsed last Friday.

The respondents in the case are the Alyansa Para Sa Bagong Pilipinas Incorporated, Office of the Ombudsman, and Office of the President. – Rappler.com