MANILA, Philippines – Three top officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said they will not resign despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s demand for them to quit, following the suicide of an ERC director over corruption issues.
In an ANC interview on Monday, November 21, ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Ina Asirit, and Gloria Yap-Taruc all said resigning would not be in the best interests of the ERC.
“I think we will achieve more by doing an impartial investigation rather than by resigning,” said Non, referring to a planned probe into the death of ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr.
Villa took his own life on November 9, allegedly after being pressured to approve anomalous contracts, according to his sister, journalist Charie Villa.
Yap-Taruc said they would welcome a chance to meet with Duterte himself to discuss the corruption issues hounding the ERC.
“Mr President, we will fully cooperate with any investigation that will be forthcoming… because that will clear the air for everyone,” she said.
“I just hope the President will summon all of us. It will be good for all of us to meet the President because we have not seen him in person.”
Asirit, for her part, said they would address all issues head-on. “Mas pinili po namin na harapin ang kahit anong akusasyon rather than to turn our backs,” she said. (We chose to face any accusation rather than to turn our backs.)
Earlier on Monday, Duterte demanded that top ERC officials resign, saying he had heard reports of corruption in the commission. He also threatened to file a case against ERC officials and to cut off their funding.
“I will ask Congress, I will demand from Congress to disband [the ERC],” said the President in a press conference in Lima, Peru, where he attended the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
The ERC is an independent regulatory body created by law to keep an eye out for abusive practices in the power industry.
It has recently been hounded by reports of dubious handlings of contracts, the hiring of too many consultants, and questionable appointments. (READ: ERC appointment raises conflict-of-interest issues)
As ERC Director, Villa served as the chairman of the bids and awards committee.
“We have not yet started a formal probe into the circumstances of his (Villa’s) death. We haven’t sat down as a body on how to address it formally,” said Yap-Taruc.
“It’s a personal thing for us, to know what is really the truth, to know what really happened.” – Rappler.com