MANILA, Philippines – Beleaguered Power Sector Assets & Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) president and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel R. Ledesma, Jr is seeking help from Malacañang to determine if the PSALM board was authorized to suspend him and appoint an officer-in-charge (OIC).
The state firm’s board of directors suspended Ledesma for 90 days in a decision released May 6. (READ: PSALM chief Ledesma on 90-day preventive suspension)
“I am requesting for an opinion from your Office as to whether or not the PSALM Board has the authority to preventively suspend me and designate an OIC,” Ledesma’s May 6 letter to the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for legal affairs read.
No reason was provided for Ledesma’s suspension, but the presidential appointee has been a subject of a corruption complaint filed by some PSALM employees.
The Sucat power plant privatization is only one of the many issues that PSALM employees have hurled against Ledesma. In their petition, the employees asked the board to sack Ledesma and disqualify him from reappointment.
They also cited Ledesma’s “transactions which are grossly disadvantageous to the government; lack of sound business principles and judgment; non-compliance with PSALM’s Manual of Approvals and established rules and regulation; and alarming governance issues such as inefficiency, poor leadership skills, abuse of discretion, distrust on employees, and unethical behavior.”
The PSALM board, chaired by Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, based its decision to suspend Ledesma on Section 18 of RA 10149 otherwise known or the GCG (Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporation) Law, which states that “the CEO in the charter of GOCCs shall be elected annually by the members of the Board from among its ranks. The CEO shall be subject to the disciplinary powers of the Board and may be removed by the Board for cause.”
Ledesma said that the PSALM board wrongly interpreted the provision. In his 27-page letter, Ledesma said that the GCG law speaks of a CEO being subject to the disciplinary powers of the Board. It refers to a CEO who is “elected annually by the members of the Board from among its ranks.”
Thus, “it does not refer to a CEO that is directly appointed by the President of the Philippines and sits in the Board in an ex-officio capacity,” said Ledesma, who was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III in September 2010.
“The PSALM President is appointed by the President of the Philippines. I was extended by the President of the Philippines on appointment as the President and CEO. It is in this light that the second sentence of Section 18 of CGC law becomes inapplicable in the case of PSALM to justify my preventive suspension,” said Ledesma, adding that the “twin orders” of PSALM board “usurped the powers” of the President.
He also said the board is violating his right to due process, saying “their action subjected me to multiple administrative proceedings.”
What makes the suspension double illegal is that there was no pending investigation by the PSALM board, he pointed out. “A preventive suspension is supposed to be issued pending an investigation,” Ledesma said.
He added that the GCG recommendation sent to Purisima was never shown to him. Ledesma said that since the GCG findings were already forwarded and brought to President Aquino, who, in turn, referred the same to his legal group, the board should have left the decision to the President.
“As the appointing authority, it is the Office of the President which is the proper authority to conduct an investigation and issue the corresponding preventive suspension order, if warranted. The PSALM board has no authority to do so,” Ledesma said.
In the meantime, Ledesma was replaced by Lourdes S. Alzona, PSALM vice-president for finance. – Rappler.com
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