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Breaktime

Bid and breakfast

/ 12:20 AM April 20, 2017

As congressmen fight to death in public to defend their concubines, our beloved lawmakers ended the investigation of big issues in the ERC—rather abruptly.

As a result, one issue that would subside soon would be the controversial CSP, or the “competitive selection process.”

That should make certain power companies ecstatic, which means millions of power users in this country are f..ed!

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You see, under the 15-year old power industry reform law or Epira, the CSP requires electricity distributors to hold bidding for supply contracts.

Designed to help consumers get the best possible power rates, the CSP nevertheless remained just a dream all these years. The Energy Regulatory Commission never put it into effect for some mysterious reasons.

When, in 2015, the ERC got a new chair in lawyer Jose Vicente Salazar, it issued right away a resolution to put the CSP into action.

The implementation hit some snags. The ERC had to delay it somewhat. Lo and behold, certain power distributors saw the opening to hurry up supply contracts without bidding. Yes, the famous “midnight deals!”

In hearings in the House of Representatives, it was revealed that the postponement of CSP resulted from the manipulation of certain commissioners.

But the joint investigation by two House committees centered on the sensationalized suicide of ERC executive Francisco Villa Jr., a lawyer who headed the bids and awards committee.

Reports said the congressmen were disappointed with the hearings, calling the whole affair a “dud,” with mere side issues coming up, such as the supposed production of AV (audio-video) material, pest control service and boardroom renovation, all of which were contained in the supposed suicide note of Villa.

The Commission on Audit stated that the ERC did not spend even a single centavo on any of those transactions.

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The truth was the target of the House investigation was Salazar, because some influential groups apparently wanted him out of ERC.

Reports said some business groups were hurting—financially—because of his stern policies in the ERC.

Such was the angle that at least three congressmen saw in the investigation.

Under fire from motor-biking Duterte Harley, who wanted the entire ERC collegial body to resign, the ERC commissioners at one time even decided to fry Salazar in his absence, by conducting their own investigation, focusing on him of course.

But one perceptive congressman asked in the hearings why the four commissioners seemed to be ganging up on Salazar, and one of them replied that working with him was “unpleasant.”

As it turned out, the CSP was one of the reasons why Salazar was unpleasant, and thus he had to be ousted from ERC.

In 2015, when ERC was about to enforce the CSP as a requirement of the Epira, two ERC commissioners were the most insistent to extend the deadline.

Supposedly, some electric cooperatives in Mindanao would be in danger of losing their supply because of the CSP, and the people would have no breakfast. Or some weird scenarios like that!

In the hearings, it was pointed out that—on record—Salazar objected to the extension, arguing that the big boys would pounce on even the tiniest of openings.

Actually, the ERC postponement of the CSP came under fire from cause-oriented groups, howling that the ERC favored big power distributors.

After all, surveys already showed that business organizations regarded ERC as one of the five worst performing agencies in the country.

It came as no surprise then that, when the ERC issued the resolution to implement the CSP, the big boys in the power industry protested against it.

With the help of media of course!

True enough, when the postponement came, one big boy in the power business was able to slip through negotiated deals for some 4,000 megawatts of supply from its sister companies. In short, no competitive bidding whatsoever!

Those contracts would only tie us down for the next several lifetimes.

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TAGS: competitive selection process, congressmen, electricity distributors, lawmakers
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