Exclusive: ERC chief to face complaint over irregular appointments

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 6) — The National Bureau of Investigation filed on Wednesday a graft complaint against Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chief Jose Vicente Salazar before the Ombudsman for approving contracts without public bidding.

And soon, he may also face a charges at the Office of the President for abuse of authority.

Lawyers building the case against Salazar who asked for anonymity told CNN Philippines the complaint will primarily raise questionable appointments made by the ERC chief.

"When you do all those movements, it certainly affects the efficiency of the organization, not to mention the integrity of the organization, 'di ba?," one of them said.

Salazar is accused of promoting unqualified staff.

Just last month, Salazar moved up a certain Ronaldo Gomez to Officer-in-charge Executive Director -- several jumps from his position as division chief, according to an official knowledgeable about the promotion.

"Meron siyang ulterior motive kasi mga tao niya yan eh, nadidiktahan niya, ang loyalty is to him not to the institution," the official said.

[Translation: He has an ulterior motive because he can tell the people what to do, their loyalty is to him not to the institution.]

Another example to be cited is an  April 3, 2017 order issued by Salazar reappointing a certain Ellen Ebcas as director of the ERC's Regulatory Operations Service.

Ebcas is reportedly married to an electric cooperative general manager, raising a possible conflict of interest in the appointment.

A former ERC official supposedly removed Ebcas from her position because of this, but Salazar reappointed her despite objections by current commissioners.

"Lahat kasi ng rates dumadaan sa regulatory operations service, kunwari capital expenditure. 'Yung maaaring mangyare na paboran niya, nandun 'yun eh," our second source said.

[Translation: All rates go through regulatory operations service, just like capital expenditure. Those that he can favor are there.]

Salazar is also accused of appointing staff to officer-in-charge positions even if they have no civil service eligibility, which is a requirement.

The commissioners are said to have objected to these moves during a recent closed-door session.

They invoked Executive Order 172, which states that the chairman does not have sole power to appoint ERC staff.  Salazar, however, allegedly insisted he does. 

"The board is a collegial body. So he cannot say na lahat ng decisions akin, na akin lang ito," our sources said.

[Translation: The board is a collegial body. So he cannot say all decisions are mine and only mine.]

CNN Philippines is still trying to get Salazar's side on this issue.

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