By Myrna M. Velasco
The number of Commissioners, including the Chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), has been proposed to be expanded to seven from currently five being the base of the regulatory body’s leadership.
That has been anchored on a legislative measure currently under deliberations at the House of Representatives and has been reportedly certified by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as urgent.
In the original bill of House Committee on Energy Chairman Lord Allan Velasco, he was batting for at least nine ERC Commissioners to be appointed by the President – with some of them to be deployed for regional assignments.
But in last week’s hearing in the lower House, ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera lodged a counter-proposal, with her putting forward that seven Commissioners may already be a prudent number for them to carry out their tasks.
Of the regulatory body’s beefed up leadership, Devanadera noted that each Commissioner shall be assigned to specific tasks – primarily in hearing and deliberating on cases relating to rate applications; capital expenditures, the issuance of certificates of compliance (COCs) to power facilities as well as tackle the rule-making facets of the ERC task.
That way, according to the ERC chairperson, these Commissioners would be able to gain specialization if the fields or sphere of regulations they are being assigned to.
In the proposed reorganization of the ERC, it was similarly advocated that the assignments of the Commissioners be enforced on rotation basis, so they can gain wider knowledge on their respective functions.
Following the conduct of initial public hearings, the bill has been lined up for further discussions at the technical working group (TWG) level.
When the bill’s loose ends would finally be fine-tuned, the House committee on energy will pursue other rounds of deliberation at the resumption of sessions on November 12 this year.
It is targeted that the ERC restructuring measure be passed into law before the adjournment of the current Congress and the conduct of mid-term elections in May.
The ERC had been adversely in the spotlight in the past two years due to the string of controversies tied to its leadership.
That then prompted Congress to recommend a pathway on its restructuring so it can serve better the needs of the industry in a manner that should be fast and efficient, and according to the expectations of the Filipino consumers that the industry regulator ought to protect.