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Palace investigating Ducut

The Investigative and Adjudicatory Division of the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs is now probing the complaint against Energy Regulatory Commission chief

NOT LEAVING. Under fire for allegations she hastily approved a power rate increase, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson and CEO Zenaida Cruz-Ducut dismisses calls for her to resign. Photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines – Responding to calls for her removal, Malacañang said it is investigating the complaint filed by Akbayan before the Office of the President to remove Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Ducut.

On Tuesday, February 4, Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said the Investigative and Adjudicatory Division of the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (DESLA) is probing the matter.

The Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs is headed by Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Michael Aguinaldo.

“According to them, they have received the complaint from Akbayan and have started to investigate the complaint filed before them,” Coloma said.

The complaint, filed on Thursday, January 23, urged President Benigno Aquino III to remove Ducut from office for “gross neglect of duty and incompetence in protecting the interest of the power consumers.”

Under Ducut, the ERC approved a steep power rate hike which power company Manila Electric Co (Meralco) had asked for. The power company said it was forced to raise prices following the one-month shutdown of the Malampaya gas pipeline, which made transmission more expensive. Its shutdown suspiciously coincided with the closing of other power sources.

Ducut is also linked to the multi-billion pork barrel scam, and faces malversation charges before the Ombudsman.

Malacañang had earlier refused to put pressure on Ducut to resign.

Ducut, who enjoys a fixed term after being appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has so far ignored calls for her to step down. Her term is supposed to end in 2015. Rappler.com