Palace suspends ERC chief 4 months for insubordination

August 3, 2017 - 4:49 PM
File photo of Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Jose Vicente Salazar/ERC photo

MANILA- Malacañang has suspended Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Jose Vicente Salazar for four months for insubordination.

This was confirmed on Thursday by Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag at a Palace briefing. “The Office of the Executive Secretary, in its decision dated Aug. 2, 2017, finds Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman and CEO Jose Vicente B. Salazar, guilty of insubordination. Thus, Mr. Salazar is meted out the penalty of suspension for a period of four months without pay,” she said.

The Palace official, who is also a lawyer, said that Salazar’s suspension is separate from the 90-day suspension earlier meted out on the embattled ERC chair.

She said that the preventive suspension is not a form of penalty but only a remedial action in order for the office to be able to investigate unhampered – or with no documents being hidden by any party who is subject of the inquiry.

Banaag said the insubordination case against Salazar stemmed from his order designating lawyer Ronaldo Gomez as signing authority for the office of the chairman and chief executive officer despite Malacañang’s order assigning
Commissioner Geronimo Sta. Ana to serve as officer-in-charge during his absence.

“So this is the insubordination part. This is the penalty, because the Office of the President has jurisdiction over Chair Salazar. And for his disobedience, for insubordination, for not obeying the previous appointment released by the Office of the Executive Secretary to Mr. Sta. Ana, OIC Sta. Ana and for appointing another person as OIC. That is the case of the insubordination that was decided upon by the Office of ES,” Banaag said.

However, she said that there are other issues surrounding the case of Salazar other than insubordination that she could not disclose.

“For investigations, of course, we cannot divulge whatever they are so as not to preempt whatever may happen. For the other cases, we will not be mentioning about that or tackling that since it would be a full blown investigation that would need a lot more time for them to be able to investigate,” Banaag said.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier asked Salazar to resign after ERC Director Francisco Villa Jr. committed suicide.

Prior to his death, Villa had exposed that some ERC officials were pressuring him to approve anomalous deals.