Four Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) commissioners have been suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for tolerating Meralco’s misuse of electricity bill deposits of consumers.
Those ordered suspended by the Ombudsman are ERC Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana.
In its resolution, the Ombudsman slapped the four commissioners with a three-month suspension for permitting Meralco to treat the deposits as part of capital instead of guarantees which must be returned to consumers upon termination of electricity subscriptions.
“Meralco treated the bill deposits as part of its capital without the benefit of a reasonable return of interest to accrue to consumers – a practice which respondents appeared to have acquiesced in,” the Ombudsman pointed out.
The suspension stemmed from the complaint filed by consumer group National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Inc. (Nasecore) before the Ombudsman.
Had not Nasecore filed the complaint, the Ombudsman said “respondents will continue to ignore their mandate in promoting, safeguarding and protecting the interest of the public consumers by regulating, monitoring or checking Meralco’s utilization of the bill deposits, at the very least.”
The Ombudsman previously ordered last December 2017 suspended the four commissioners four one year over their alleged involvement in anomalous transactions with power generating companies affiliated with the Meralco.
However, the four managed to secure an injunction from the Court of Appeals (CA) last April which permitted them to return to work.