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Gone at last! ERC chair Joe Salazar dismissed for corruption

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The Office of the President has dismissed Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairman Jose Vicente Salazar over allegations of corruption.

In a decision signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on October 6, the Office of the President found Salazar guilty of two counts of simple misconduct and one count of grave misconduct.

Salazar was implicated in the suicide of the late ERC director Francisco Villa Jr., who accused him of rigging the selection process for an audio visual presentation contract in favor of a certain Luis Morelos.

The Office of the President said it found “sufficient evidence” to support the allegation that Salazar influenced or exerted undue pressure on BAC members to favor Morelos for the AVP project.

“With respect to the matter of procurement of the AVP project, all elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, and flagrant disregard of established rule have been sufficiently demonstrated.” the decision read.

In addition to favoring a certain contractor for a project, Salazar was also accused of violating the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act 9184 by declaring the renovation cost of the Board Room and Office of the Chairman to be P1.4 million, when it only took P500,000 to finish it.

There were also alleged irregularities with regard to the reimbursement of cost for the pest control services and purchase of Microsoft Office software.

Citing a Commission on Audit report, other ERC commissioners noted that the agency’s expenses for hiring consultants rose by 102 percent under Salazar’s watch, though there was no basis for the exorbitant fees given to them.

They also accused Salazar of appointing his staff members to the Promotion and Selection Board even though they were unqualified.

Salazar was placed under preventive suspension before the Office of the President dismissed him from service.